PDEA now lead agency

The Freeman - - OPINION -

Pres­i­dent Duterte has of­fi­cially or­dered the Philip­pine Drug En­force­ment Agency (PDEA) to be the sole agency in the so-called war against il­le­gal drugs. The or­der comes af­ter the lat­est SWS sur­vey show­ing a dou­ble digit de­cline in Duterte’s trust and sat­is­fac­tion rat­ings. The bloody war of the PNP against il­le­gal drugs, which saw the ques­tion­able killings of teenagers, has had a neg­a­tive ef­fect on Duterte’s pop­u­lar­ity. Ac­cord­ing to Duterte, the move was made for “pin­point­ing pre­cise ac­count­abil­ity”, should abuses or ques­tion­able op­er­a­tions oc­cur. The PNP has re­ceived such a bad im­age since its bloody war on drugs, made worse by the high-pro­file killings of young boys.

But ac­cord­ing to the Free Le­gal As­sis­tance Group (FLAG), the pres­i­dent’s or­der is con­fus­ing, since there ap­par­ently is a law that states that PDEA can be the lead agency if the PNP or the

NBI vi­o­late the Com­pre­hen­sive Dan­ger­ous Drugs Act. That be­ing said, PDEA will now lead anti-drug op­er­a­tions in the coun­try, de­spite its lim­ited man­power and re­sources. The DILG and the PNP will also scrap the boxes where one could “drop a dime” on any­one sup­pos­edly in­volved in drugs or other crim­i­nal ac­tiv­i­ties. With the pos­si­bil­ity of these boxes be­ing abused –such as ac­cus­ing in­no­cent peo­ple for the most mun­dane of rea­sons– the whole pro­gram will now be scrapped, as it should be.

If so, will the po­lice no longer con­duct op­er­a­tions, such as the bloody ones in Caloocan? Does it mean that the killing of sus­pects who al­legedly fought back will stop? Is this meant to change the course of the cam­paign against il­le­gal drugs where thou­sands have al­ready been killed? Does that mean Gen. Dela Rosa will no longer is­sue ridicu­lous state­ments re­gard­ing the war on drugs? Ac­cord­ing to him, the PNP can now re­lax, and that they can now at­tend to other crimes that can be iden­ti­fied. Does that mean that the PNP was not at­tend­ing to any­thing else but the war on drugs? It sure sounds that way. But where does the PNP’s P900-mil­lion bud­get re­cently ap­proved by Congress now go? Will it be al­lo­cated to PDEA, whose re­sources are sorely lack­ing? I be­lieve it should be, at least a big chunk of it.

But will we see a rise in the ac­tiv­ity of the death squads that have been re­spon­si­ble for what the PNP la­bels as “deaths un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion”? If the po­lice are no longer in the front­line, per­haps these groups will now work in the shad­ows, and still reap the re­wards they are al­legedly promised? We can only wait and see the re­sults of this new di­rec­tive.

‘Will the po­lice no longer con­duct op­er­a­tions, such

as the bloody ones in Caloocan? Does it mean that the killing of sus­pects who al­legedly fought back

will stop?’

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