By LITO RULONA
NOTORIOUS drug pushers, and drug users are being released from the the city’s prisons while their helpless prosecutors, jailers, and the law enforcers who arrested them just watch as they go back to the streets one by one.
Most likely, it’s going to be “business as usual” for many drug dealers after their cases were dismissed, and narcotics agents would have their hands full again.
Some 100 drug cases in the city, filed before the January fire at the Hall of Justice, have so far been dismissed because they could not or could no longer be reconstituted, said city prosecutor Fidel Macauyag.
At the Misamis Oriental Provincial Jail, some 15 criminal cases, mostly drugelated, were dismissed last week alone, according to jail warden Dominador Tagarda. Reason: the cases were not reconstituted, and because there was no longer any evidence to present in court.
Tagarda said there were at least 50 cases more that were earlier dismissed due to the same reason. Macauyag said local prosecutors started seeing a rush in the dismissal of drug cases here last week because “the courts could not do anything but dismiss the cases.”
He said prosecutors cannot work on the cases unless these are reconstituted, and the courts cannot convict anyone without evidence.
All the evidence––seized drugs, paraphernalia, marked money used in the law enforcement operations, and even confiscated guns––are gone as a result of the January fire that destroyed the entire Hall of Justice which housed prosecution offices and most of the courts here.
Regional state prosecutor Jaime Umpa said prosecutors were also having similar problems with other cases like illegal possession of firearms, explosives and ammunition that were filed before the January fire. Prosecutors said many of the evidence have yet to be presented in court.
Right after the January fire, Macauyag said, prosecutors sent out notices to private lawyers and law enforcement agencies to immediately work on the reconstitution of their cases within six months.
He said those who failed to beat the six-month deadline may re-file the cases if they could still present evidence. The Hall of Justice fire bred other problems like overcrowding in the local prison facilities.
Warden Tagarda said many inmates are becoming impatient because their cases were not moving and they have not been to court since the January fire.
Tagarda is the head of the overcrowded Misamis Oriental Provincial Jail. He said the facility was built for 400 inmates but its population grew to 530.
“Misamot og daghan ang mga piniriso tungod kay nag-abot na kining daan og bag-o nga mga detainees. Ang daan naghulat pa sa reconstitution sa ilang kaso,” Tagarda said.