Aguirre welcomes PDEA, BuCor deal to rid jails of illegal drugs

MANILA -- Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II welcomed the renewed partnership of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) to curb illegal drug activities inside government prison facilities and penal farms.

I don't see anything wrong with it. As a matter of fact, it is good. We all know that before President Rodrigo Duterte took office around 70 to 75 percent of illegal drugs in the country are cooked at the national penitentiary, Aguirre said.

PDEA Director General Aaron Aquino and BuCor Officer-In-Charge Valfrie Tabian signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) last Tuesday at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) in Muntinlupa City, aimed at continuing cooperation and enhancing organized and systematic implementation of Republic Act 9165, or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, particularly inside correctional institutions.

According to Aquino, the MOA is an extension of the previous agreement between the two agencies signed on March 25, 2015, except for the inclusion of additional provisions prescribing PDEA to secure its own office inside the BuCor's jurisdiction, to effectively address trafficking and other drug-related activities.

Aside from the MOA signing, the PDEA Liaison and Coordinating Office was also inaugurated inside the NBP.

Aquino said the office will have a canine unit so that they can conduct a 24-hour PDEA visibility as well as perform regular greyhound operations in a bid to finally get rid of drug proliferation inside the NBP.

Aquino added that BuCor personnel are also expected to lend assistance in the day-to-day operations of PDEA office inside the NBP.

Aquino noted that despite rigorous security measures in place, illegal drug trade remains prevalent in the NBP, highlighting the necessity to "establish (PDEA's) own liaison and coordinating office based inside NBP premises to address rapidly the immediate concern of possible entry of drug contraband."

The MOA ensures intelligence-sharing and joint investigation efforts in the conduct of anti-drug operations within jail premises under the jurisdiction of the BuCor.

Under the said agreement, PDEA is also authorized to conduct greyhound operations inside BuCor correctional facilities pursuant to the standard operating procedures, Aquino said.

Aside from NBP, the prison facilities under BuCor's supervision include the Correctional Institution for Women in Mandaluyong City, Iwahig Prison and Penal Farm in Palawan, Sablayan Prison and Penal Farm in Occidental Mindoro, Leyte Regional Prison in Leyte, San Ramon Prison and Penal Farm in Zamboanga City, and Davao Prison and Penal Farm in Davao del Norte.

Prior to the agreement, PDEA and BuCor also created a joint manual of operations last year to provide a synchronized conduct of search and seizure of dangerous drugs, controlled precursors and essential chemicals and drug paraphernalia in all BuCor prisons and penal farms.

Source: Philippine News Agency