News Briefs: March 22, 2019
SC eases chain of custody rule on seized drugs
The Supreme Court has allowed law enforcers not to strictly observe the chain of custody rule on seized illegal drugs under the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, so long as the courts are convinced that the evidence is not tampered with. The high tribunal eased the requirement as it upheld the decision of the Laoag Regional Trial Court Branch 13, sentencing 53-year-old Irish national Eanna O’Cochlain on Nov. 22, 2013, to 12 to 14 years imprisonment for possession of two sticks of marijuana. The Supreme Court said failure to strictly comply with the requirement of Republic Act No. 9165 did not necessarily make the arrest and seizure of items illegal. The law requires the apprehending agents to inventory the seized drugs in the presence of the suspect or his lawyer, a prosecutor, a media member and any public official. O’Cochlain was caught with the marijuana at Laoag City International Airport in Ilocos Norte in 2013. —DONA Z. PAZZIBUGAN
Ex-Pagcor CEO sued for plunder, malversation
A former official of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) has filed plunder and malversation complaints in the Ombudsman against the agency’s former chair and CEO, Cristino Naguiat Jr. Valente Custodio, former Pagcor assistant vice president for internal audit, accused Naguiat of failing to properly liquidate about P317.67 million in intelligence funds. Custodio, who himself faces graft charges in the Sandiganbayan, filed the complaint on March 18. He said that Naguiat approved the release of 30 checks for a total amount of P254.84 million and another 18 checks for P62.82 million, all sourced from Pagcor’s intelligence funds. While the funds were initially meant for Pagcor’s Save the House project, it only had a budget of P67.12 million, Custodio said. The Commission on Audit earlier issued a notice of disallowance for the disbursement, he added. —PATRICIA DENISE M. CHIU
Philippine Navy set to forge agreements with Russia
The Philippine Navy will sign an agreement with its Russian counterpart on training and education exchanges and for the possible acquisition or grant of Russian naval equipment. Vice Adm. Robert Empedrad, the Navy flag officer in command, said he would go to Russia in July to reciprocate the visit of Adm. Vladimir Korolyov, chief of the Russian Navy, who was at the Navy headquarters in Manila on Wednesday. “We came up with an agreement for deepening cooperation between the Russian and the Philippine navies,” Empedrad said. —JEANNETTE I. ANDRADE
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