PDEA backs PNP’s possible return to anti-drug war

MANILA -- The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) on Thursday welcomed President Rodrigo Duterte's plan to bring back the Philippine National Police (PNP) in the government's fight against illegal drugs.

PDEA welcomes the decision of the President. It has been the desire of PDEA that PNP will return in the fight against illegal drugs, PDEA Director General Aaron N. Aquino said in a statement.

Duterte made the announcement on Wednesday before the Army's Special Operations Command in Fort Magsaysay, Nueva Ecija, saying he might soon return to the PNP the jurisdiction over the anti-illegal drugs war because the drug menace has worsened.

However, the President clarified that the PDEA would remain the lead agency for the campaign.

"But as of now, just to parry, I tasked PDEA (as the sole agency to address the drug problem). But whether I like it or not, I have to return the power to the police because surely, it will increase the activity of the (illegal drugs trade)," he said in his speech.

Aquino said PDEA has repeatedly admitted that it is undermanned, under budget and under equipped, hence, the need for other law enforcement agencies, particularly the PNP.

Failure is never an option when we took upon the sole authority in bringing order to the country's anti-drug campaign. We may be undermanned, underequipped and underfunded, but we continually strive to achieve more than what is expected (of us), Aquino said over the weekend.

Aquino said PDEA is cognizant of the challenges posed by the enormity of the country's drug problem in the implementation of Republic Act No. 9165, or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.

Though undermanned, underequipped and inadequately funded, PDEA will deliver tangible results, even more than is expected of us, he added.

A month after the President named PDEA as the lead law enforcement unit to wage the war against illegal drugs, it conducted a total of 1,546 anti-drug operations from Oct. 11 to Nov. 20 this year, resulting in the arrest of 489 drug personalities and the seizure of dangerous drugs worth PHP62.54 million.

Aquino attributed the achievement to the shift in the agency's operational thrusts to reduce the number of high-value targets through the conduct of high-impact and quality counter-drug operations.

This is 80.5 percent more than the operations conducted in the previous month. As a result, a 14.4 percent increase in the number of arrested drug personalities was recorded, he said.

The total value of dangerous drugs and controlled precursors and essential chemicals (CPECs) seized during the period posted a 233.3 percent increase compared to the preceding month.

Out of the seized drug evidence, 6.16 kg. are methamphetamine hydrochloride, or shabu, with an estimated street value of PHP30.8 million, as compared to the shabu seizure of 1.87 kg. worth PHP9,350,000, confiscated last month, an increase of 229.4 percent, Aquino added.

The PDEA chief assured the public of a less bloody anti-drug war and the adherence to the rule of law in performing its mandate.

From body-worn cameras to accompanying media presence, these would ensure a culture of transparency in our day-to-day operations in the streets, he said.

Aquino also directed his regional offices to meet their monthly quota of "30 to 40" anti-drug operations, as they have no choice but to level up and deliver.

It only shows we are serious. More operations to come before the end of this year, Aquino said.

With only 1,038 agents, Aquino said his agency would coordinate with the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and local government units (LGUs) in the conduct of drug-clearing operations in barangays.

The obvious lack of personnel is indeed a point of concern since our presence is only at the regional level and with some skeletal provincial offices. But we will closely link up with the barangays for the continuation of the barangay drug-clearing program, he said.

Source: Philippine News Agency