Tall or­der for PDEA


The Freeman - - FRONT PAGE - Er­mida Q. Mo­radas Chris­tell Fa­tima M. Tud­tud Staff Mem­bers

With its man­power the size of just a small po­lice sta­tion now en­trusted to over­see an en­tire re­gion, the Philip­pine Drug En­force­ment Agency in Cen­tral Visayas is fac­ing a tall or­der in be­com­ing the sole agency re­spon­si­ble for fight­ing il­le­gal drugs.

The re­gional of­fice – which cov­ers Cebu, Bo­hol, Siqui­jor, and Ne­gros Ori­en­tal – only has 95 work­ers at the mo­ment: 49 drug en­forcers per­son­nel, 36 ad­min­is­tra­tion per­son­nel, and 10 con­trac­tual em­ploy­ees.

“Our strength is more or less the strength of one po­lice sta­tion. We need more in or­der to ad­dress the prob­lem of il­le­gal drugs,” said PDEA-7 of­fi­cer-in-charge lawyer Ana Lynn Her­nan­dez.

Her­nan­dez did not dis­miss the idea that the anti­nar­cotics op­er­a­tions may be af­fected given their lim­ited man­power, but she said PDEA-7 will seek help from lo­cal gov­ern­ment units and 20 gov­ern­ment agen­cies that are mem­bers of the In­ter-Agency Com­mit­tee against Il­le­gal Drugs (ICAD).

Sep­a­rately, Po­lice Re­gional Of­fice-7 Di­rec­tor Jose Mario Espino con­firmed po­lice are rel­e­gated to the role of in­tel­li­gence gath­er­ers in the fight against drugs and will now fo­cus more on other crimes like rob­bery, rape, car­nap­ping, mo­tor-nap­ping, homi­cide, mur­der, theft, and phys­i­cal in­juries.

But he quickly left a warn­ing to il­le­gal drug op­er­a­tors.

“It doesn't mean we will stop act­ing on the com­plaint ng at­ing mga cit­i­zen or barangay cap­tain, na (kung) tala­gang in fla­grante nasa harap nila at tin­u­turo nila na may drug den diyan, drug lab­o­ra­tory, we will im­me­di­ately ask the PDEA to take the lead role and con­duct the op­er­a­tion,” he said.

The Philip­pine Na­tional Po­lice has an­nounced it would stop all pro­grams re­lated to the anti-il­le­gal drugs cam­paign.

“We are turn­ing over the task to PDEA... We'll just look for other things to work on, just not drugs for now,” PNP chief Di­rec­tor Gen­eral Ron­ald “Bato” dela Rosa said in a press brief­ing yes­ter­day.

Oplan Tokhang and Oplan Dou­ble Bar­rel Reloaded are among the pro­grams that have been stopped fol­low­ing Dela Rosa's or­der.

The PNP's Drug En­force­ment Group will now be lim­ited to in­tel­li­gence pro­duc­tion and mon­i­tor­ing.

Dela Rosa said the po­lice will now fo­cus on other crimes and on in­ter­nal “cleans­ing,” or the op­er­a­tion to ap­pre­hend cor­rupt po­lice of­fi­cers in the PNP ranks.

The PNP chief, how­ever, ad­mit­ted that he feels re­gret over the “gains” that the po­lice have achieved in the drug war for the past year.

Yes­ter­day, Espino's of­fice re­ceived the di­rec­tive re­gard­ing the change of hands for the anti-drug cam­paign and he al­ready in­structed city and pro­vin­cial po­lice di­rec­tors to gather in­for­ma­tion in line with the anti-drug op­er­a­tions and to co­or­di­nate with PDEA per­son­nel.

Espino stressed that the trans­fer of re­spon­si­bil­ity should not be con­strued as a weak­ness on the side of the PNP since PDEA, un­der the law, is re­ally the prime agency man­dated to curb the coun­try's drug prob­lem.

“It's all in the mat­ter of co­or­di­na­tion of both law en­force­ment agen­cies,” he said.

Ac­knowl­edg­ing PDEA's lack of man­power, Espino said po­lice will be there to as­sist them, adding that all Drug En­force­ment Units (DEUs) in po­lice sta­tions and po­lice head­quar­ters will re­main ac­tive.

“Mana­natili pa rin pero they will help PDEA (in their) in­tel­li­gence gath­er­ing kasi tayo ang may tao sa baba. Pero kung pos­i­tive yung (area with il­le­gal drugs), na­pakadali na­man sig­urong tawa­gin ang PDEA sa op­er­a­tion but it should be the PDEA who will lead,” he said.


But the Cebu Pro­vin­cial Anti-Drug Abuse Of­fice is not con­vinced that the PDEA-7 can ef­fec­tively man the fight against il­le­gal drugs.

CPADAO Chief Ivy Du­rano-Meca re­called that when the pres­i­dent once gave the re­spon­si­bil­ity to PDEA ear­lier this year, barangay of­fi­cials com­plained that PDEA's pres­ence was not felt due to lim­ited man­power. She said as far as Cebu prov­ince is con­cerned, PDEA lead­ing the war last time did not pro­duce good re­sults, es­pe­cially at the grass­roots level.

“We un­der­stand that their man­power is lim­ited and in terms of op­er­a­tions like buy­busts, makaya ba kaha nila'g op­er­ate con­sid­er­ing that their agency is fo­cus­ing on the en­tire Re­gion-7?” she said.

Now that the PNP is barred from con­duct­ing op­er­a­tions, Meca be­lieves stop­ping the il­le­gal drug pro­lif­er­a­tion will even be more dif­fi­cult con­sid­er­ing it was not com­pletely wiped out in the past months when mul­ti­ple sec­tors like the PNP, PDEA, De­part­ment of Health, and other agen­cies have worked hand in hand.

She re­it­er­ated that the war on drugs should be a “shared re­spon­si­bil­ity” and not be solely del­e­gated to one agency.

Lo­cal of­fi­cials in­ter­viewed by The FREE­MAN yes­ter­day also ex­pressed ap­pre­hen­sions about the PDEA-7's readi­ness to con­tinue the drug war in the same in­ten­sity as when it was han­dled by the po­lice.

Cebu City Coun­cilors Ray­mond Alvin Gar­cia and Joel Gar­gan­era are con­cerned about the lim­ited man­power of the agency.

“Di kay ko mouyon ana be­cause they are re­ally un­der­manned. You go ra gud PDEA-7 now, tan-awa ra gud ang ilang fa­cil­i­ties, tan-awa ilang mga tawo didto. Pw­erte gyud gamaya. Unya tanawa ang po­lice, pw­erte gyud daghana pero un­der­manned pa man gani ang po­lice,” Gar­cia said.

In­stead of win­ning the war, Gar­cia is con­cerned the drug prob­lem will worsen as drug per­son­al­i­ties might un­der­mine PDEA's ca­pa­bil­i­ties.

“Ako I'm wor­ried basin ma­ma­lik gyud. Modaghan na sad ang dru­gas sa Pilip­inas, mog­ara na sad ang mga drug lord, etcetera. Kay kahibawo man sila nga un­der­manned na ang PDEA. Da­pat the whole po­lice force gyud para nako, that's my idea,” Gar­cia said.

Gar­gan­era, for his part, be­lieves that the pres­i­dent is merely as­sess­ing the sit­u­a­tion.

“Mura ba og stop lang sa, let us try to as­sess if we are re­ally on the right di­rec­tion ba but for me, if we just leave that to PDEA, I mean I'm not try­ing to un­der­mine their ca­pa­bil­i­ties ba, we all know they are re­ally much un­der­manned. I don't think we can solve the prob­lem,” he said.

Yet de­spite fac­ing an in­ad­e­quate num­ber of work­ers, PDEA-7 re­mains com­mit­ted to the fight.

“PDEA will or­ches­trate all the ef­forts, with the as­sis­tance of the gov­ern­ment agen­cies, in this war so this is not some­thing they (il­le­gal drug users and push­ers) should be happy about,” Her­nan­dez said.


As the Hal­loween nears, this phys­i­cally-chal­lenged man looks for spooky mask in­side a mall in Cebu City.

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