DILG creates ‘Task Force Digong’ vs illegal drugs

MANILA — Following President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s recent pronouncement naming high ranking government officials allegedly involved in the illegal drug trade, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) said on Wednesday they have created an inter-agency task force called DILG Inter-Government Operations Network Group or DIGONG.

The newly-created task force will be chaired by DILG Secretary and concurrent National Police Commission (Napolcom) Chairperson Ismael “Mike” Sueno, while DILG Undersecretary for Operations, Atty. John Castriciones, will act as deputy chair.

Members of “Task Force Digong” are representatives from the Philippine National Police (PNP), Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP), Philippine Public Safety College (PPSC), Local Government Academy (LGA), and local government officials.

Sueno said the primary responsibility of the task force is to assist the Napolcom and other relevant government agencies which have jurisdiction over the investigation of government officials allegedly involved in illegal drugs.

“With so many top government officials being linked to illegal drugs, Task Force Digong will seek to find the truth so that those who are guilty will face the full force of the law, while those who are innocent will be cleared,” he said.

Specifically, the Task Force shall conduct case build-up and gathering of evidence against involved government officials, conduct its own preliminary investigation, and prepare a recommendation as a result of its findings.

The recommendation shall then be referred to the Napolcom or the appropriate government agency for filing of appropriate criminal and/or administrative charges, if applicable.

“The President has imposed a three- to six-month deadline against illegal drugs. TF Digong will help make this happen through better cooperation among agencies and faster, immediate action,” Sueno stressed.

The DILG Secretary said Task Force Digong shall also assist in processing the surrender of individuals involved in illegal drugs, through coordination with the PNP, and refer the surrenderees to rehabilitation centers.

“Never before in Philippine history have we seen an unprecedented number of drug surrenderees than what we see today. The DILG, through Task Force Digong, will therefore help in processing all these surrenderees and referring them to proper institutions,” he said.

Undersecretary John Castriciones said the task force members will regularly coordinate with relevant government agencies, including the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB), Philippine Drugs Enforcement Agency (PDEA), National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), Bureau of Customs (BOC), and Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLA) in the performance of its functions.

The DILG undersecretary also encouraged the public “to report any information on the alleged links of government officials to the drug trade, and any illegal drug activities in their communities” to TF Digong through telephone No. 9286713.

Task Force Digong will complement PNP’s Task Force Tokhang (knock and plead), the anti-drug campaign wherein police officers visit houses of people suspected of being involved in illegal drugs.

Another task force, Oplan Rody (Rid the Streets of Drinkers and Youth) sets a curfew to minors from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. and prohibits drinking of liquor in the streets and public places. Sammy Martin/PNA/northboundasia.com