Un­der­manned, PDEA re­mains a po­tent force

Manila Bulletin - - Visayas News - By KIER EDI­SON C. BELLEZA

CEBU CITY – It may be un­der­manned, but the Philip­pine Drug En­force­ment Agency (PDEA) in Cen­tral Visayas as­sured it is ca­pa­ble enough to join the war against il­le­gal drugs.

“Our strength is more or less the strength of one po­lice sta­tion. We need more (per­son­nel) in or­der to ad­dress the prob­lem of il­le­gal drugs,” said PDEA Re­gional Of­fi­cer-in-Charge Ana Lynn Nob.

Nob said her unit “ac­cepts the chal­lenge and the re­spon­si­bil­ity given to us by the Pres­i­dent… PDEA will or­ches­trate all the ef­forts, with the as­sis­tance of the govern­ment agen­cies in this war. So this is not some­thing il­le­gal drug users and push­ers should be happy about.”

The drug en­force­ment re­gional of­fice has 95 work­ers. Forty-nine of whom are drug en­force­ment of­fi­cers, with the rest be­ing ad­min­is­tra­tion per­son­nel and con­trac­tual em­ploy­ees.

It cov­ers the prov­inces of Cebu, Bo­hol, Siqui­jor, and Ne­gros Ori­en­tal.

Nob said its anti-drug op­er­a­tions may be af­fected by lim­ited man­power and re­sources, but the unit “will ask the help of other govern­ment agen­cies, es­pe­cially those un­der ICAD (In­ter-Agency Com­mit­tee for Anti-Drug Abuse).”

“Of course, we will also seek the as­sis­tance of lo­cal govern­ment units (LGUs) and our com­mu­nity,” she said.

ICAD has at least 20 mem­ber­groups, in­clud­ing the Philip­pine Na­tional Po­lice (PNP), Armed Forces of the Philip­pines (AFP), Na­tional Bu­reau of In­ves­ti­ga­tion (NBI), and Dan­ger­ous Drugs Board.

In a mem­o­ran­dum he signed on Oc­to­ber 10, Pres­i­dent Duterte di­rected the NBI, PNP, AFP, and all other agen­cies or “any and all ad hoc anti-drug task force to 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 in or con­nected with, il­le­gal drugs.”

Doubts have been raised, how­ever, on whether the PDEA re­gional of­fice can per­form ef­fec­tively, con­sid­er­ing it is short on man­power.

Cebu City Mayor To­mas Os­meña said that while there are “a lot of good men” in the re­gional PDEA, they have very few per­son­nel.

Ivy Meca, Cebu Pro­vin­cial An­tiDrug Abuse Of­fice (CPADAO) Chief, also ques­tioned the de­ci­sion to let PDEA spear­head the war on drugs.

“We un­der­stand that their man­power is lim­ited… in terms of op­er­a­tions like buy-busts, can they re­ally op­er­ate con­sid­er­ing that their agency is fo­cus­ing on the en­tire Re­gion 7?” Meca said.

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