Anti-drug agency can now directly apply for search warrants

The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency does not have to course its applications through prosecutors. They can go to the Manila and Quezon City RTCs

Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) personnel stand guard at the entrance of an upscale apartment in the financial district of Manila. File photo by AFP

MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court (SC) has given the national police’s anti-drug agency to apply for search warrants directly with lower courts – a task that they used to course through government prosecutors.

In an en banc resolution issued on June 4, the high court said the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) can now file applications for search warrants with the regional trial courts (RTC) of Manila and Quezon City.

The search warrants to be issued by the Manila and Quezon City RTCs will be enforceable nationwide. They should cover heinous crimes and violations of the Comprehensive Dangerous Act of 2002.

With its resolution – a copy of which was distributed to reporters on Thursday, July 4 – the SC amended Section 12, Chapter V of A.M. No 03-8-02-SC dated January 27, 2004. It added PDEA to the list of agencies authorized to file applications of search warrants.

Section 12 now reads: 

Chapter V. Specific Powers, Prerogatives and Duties of Executive Judges in Judicial Supervision

Issuance of search warrants in special criminal cases by the Regional Trial Courts of Manila and Quezon City – The Executive Judges and, whenever they are on official leave of absence or are not physically present in the situation, the Vice-Executive Judges of the RTCs of Manila and Quezon City shall have authority to act on application filed by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), the Philippine National Police (PNP), the Anti-Crime Task Force (ACTAF), and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), for search warrants involving heinous crimes, illegal gambling, illegal possession of firearms and ammunitions as well as violations of the Comprehensive Drugs Act of 2002, the Intellectual Property Code, the Anti-Money Laundering Ace of 2001, the Tariff and customs Code, as amended, and other relevant laws that may hereafter be enacted by Congress, and included herein by the Supreme Court.

The amended section also states that applications personally endorsed by the head of either agencies should describe the places to be searched and the property or things that to be seized under the Rules of Court.

The executive judges and the vice executive judges of the RTCs are the ones who should issue the warrants, which may be served in the places outside the territorial jurisdiction of the said courts.

The amended section also orders the executive judges and the authorized judges to keep a special docket book listing named of the judges to whom the applications are assigned. The list should also include details of the applications and the results of the searches and seizures made pursuant to the warrant issued.

The high court also ordered the amended section to be an exception to Section 2 of Rule 126 of the Rules of Court. – 

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