PDEA chief on taking over drug ops: We can do it

MANILA – The head of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) said despite the lack of personnel, his office has accepted the challenge to take over from the Philippine National Police (PNP) the daunting task of leading the anti-illegal drug operations.

“We will take the lead and enlist the support of concerned government agencies that are members of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD), pursuant to Executive Order No. 15,” Director General Aaron Aquino told the Philippine News Agency (PNA).

ICAD, he said, has unified, integrated, and synchronized all anti-drug efforts and strategies to address the drug problem holistically.

With only 1,038 agents, Aquino said the agency will coordinate with the Department of the Interior and Local Government and local government units (LGUs) for the continuation of drug-clearing efforts in barangays.

“The obvious lack of personnel is indeed a point of concern since our presence is only on 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 Friday.

Aquino noted that PDEA continues to encourage the Barangay Anti-Drug Abuse Council (BADAC) of every community to get more involved in the anti-drug campaign by reporting suspicious illegal drug activities in their neighborhood.

The BADACs were deputized and empowered to plan and implement strategic policies, and evaluate programs and projects on drug prevention and control, given the political and police powers of the barangay to administer the affairs of the community.

When asked about the deputation of agents to cover 42,029 barangays across the country, Aquino answered, “We do not have any guidance on deputation as of the moment.”

“PDEA will pick up from where the PNP left off. Lahat ng trabahong bibitawan nila, kami na ang aako. Mahirap man ay kakayanin namin (We will take on whatever work they will leave behind. This may not be easy but we will do it),” he added.

On Monday, Aquino announced that PDEA needs highly qualified professionals to fill up 373 vacancies.

PDEA has an approved 2,271 regular positions, 1,898 of which are filled up and deployed nationwide. The list of vacant plantilla positions is published in the agency’s official website, http//.www.pdea.gov.ph.

Interested applicants may send their application letters addressed to Aaron N. Aquino, Director General, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, NIA Northside Road, National Government Center, Barangay Pinyahan, Quezon City.

Aquino said the agency continues to provide employment opportunities by opening its doors to those who aspire to become part of the country’s anti-drug organization.

“This is an opportunity for those who want to join the fight in ridding our country of illegal drugs and be part of an elite drug law enforcement group. Be part of the PDEA family — Professional, Dynamic, Excellence-driven and Accountable public servants with credibility and competency in leading a drug-free Philippines,” Aquino said in a statement.

Last Tuesday, President Rodrigo Duterte directed the PNP, National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Bureau of Customs (BOC) and other agencies, as well as ad hoc anti-drug task forces to stop conducting anti-illegal drug operations.

In a memorandum, the President said these agencies shall “leave to the PDEA, as sole agency, the conduct of all campaigns and operations against all those who directly or indirectly, and in whatever manner or capacity, are involved or connected with illegal drugs.”

Duterte issued the directive “to bring order to the operation/campaign against illegal drugs, thus pinpointing precise accountability.”

“The PNP shall at all times maintain police visibility as a deterrent to illegal drug activities, leaving to the PDEA, however, the conduct of anti-illegal drug operations as aforestated,” the memo said.

Duterte’s directive was issued following allegations of human rights abuses committed by the PNP in the war against prohibited drugs.

This is the second time Duterte has ordered the PNP to stop all anti-illegal drug operations nationwide. Christopher Lloyd Caliwan/PNA – northboundasia.com