PDEA seeks probe into links between drug syndicates, rights groups

MANILA The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) will look into the possibility that non-governmental organizations (NGOs) may have become unwitting tools by drug lords to discredit the government's war on drugs, PDEA Spokesperson Derrick Arnold Carreon said Tuesday.

That is still a subject of further investigation by all law enforcement agencies. We still have to dig further on this, he said during a Palace media briefing.

Carreon was asked if PDEA has proof to back up the claim of Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano and Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque that human rights groups may have been funded by drug lords to discredit President Rodrigo Duterte's anti-narcotics campaign.

But seeing the trend of how they attack the anti-drug campaign, I guess we can only surmise that it might be unwitting to the human rights groups that they are being capitalized or maybe just leveraged by the groups, he said.

Of course any damage or any attack against the (illegal drug) campaign is of course advantageous to the other side, he added.

The PDEA official said checking personalities behind the NGOs that are allegedly being used as unwitting tools by drug lords will be part of the investigation.

Perhaps it might include that or any link for that matter. Just to look into the possibility, he clarified.

Despite the attack against the drug war, Carreon said PDEA will continue to conduct anti-drug operations in accordance with the law.

We'd like to stand by our efforts that we are doing our job according to the rule of law, he said, adding that adjustments have been made on the ground (so that) we would not be criticized negatively.

We have been transparent. We've been inviting media and stakeholders to join us. We wear body cameras. We have been adjusting as well, in order to dispel any notion that operations are conducted with any kind of irregularities, he said.

He assured that PDEA and the Philippine National Police (PNP) are open to criticisms, adding that corrections will be considered in their efforts to make a drug-free Philippines.

That is why we are pushing for not just pure law enforcement operations but intensified demand reduction and even harm reduction efforts, Carreon said.

Source: Philippine News Agency