Bohol police intelligence officers on Wednesday apprehended two more drug offenders who were recently released through the Supreme Court-mandated plea bargaining framework, further increasing the number of plea bargain grantees who have been rearrested in the province.
The alleged drug dealers, Marlito Paca, 37, and Restituto Tacatani, 44, both residents of Barangay Ubujan in Inabanga, allegedly yielded shabu worth P68,000 during a drug buy-bust operation in the said village.
In a report, police said that they spotted Paca selling shabu as they conducted monitoring operations in the town.
Operatives of the police’s Drug Enforcement Unit (3rd District) and Provincial Intelligence Branch then subjected Paca to a sting operation which resulted in his apprehension and the arrest of Tacatani who was with him during the staged drug transaction.
The authorities allegedly seized P10 grams of shabu from both men who are now detained at the lock-up jail of the Inabanga Police Station.
Even with the Bohol Provincial Police Office’s (BPPO) intensified anti-drug drive, more drug offenders were freed in Bohol through the plea bargaining agreement framework than drug suspects collared by the police in the first eight months of 2019.
According to data from the Bohol District Jail and the Tagbilaran City Jail, two of the largest jails among five detention centers in the province, 563 drug offenders were released from both facilities after they entered into plea bargaining deals from January to August.
The figure is 31 percent higher than the number of arrested drug suspects across Bohol in the same period at 427 individuals based on data from the BPPO.
Several officials including Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Bohol Chapter President Atty. Tata Columnas and BPPO director Colonel Jonathan Cabal have raised concern over the apparent impediment that the plea deals pose to the government’s anti-drug campaign.
According to Cabal, plea bargaining deals have only allowed drug personalities to grow their network through deals and acquaintances made inside the detention centers which are later used once released through plea deals.
“In my opinion, it did not help at all na we have this (plea bargain) because people are just being recycled when they go to jail they get more contacts, they expands their networks,” said Cabal in an earlier interview.
The plea bargaining framework was adopted by the SC in 2018 right in the middle of the national government’s anti-drug drive and was seen to decongest jails and ease backlog in courts handling drug cases.
However, the release of convicted drug personalities has been seen to fuel the drug trade in Bohol as there have been numerous cases of repeat offenders in the province. (WM)