New PDEA-7 director named
A new director has been appointed to lead the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency in Central Visayas, two days after the PDEA was ordered to take the lead in Duterte administration's war against drugs.
Emerson Margate, former PDEA director in Bicol region, is set to fill the position vacated by former PDEA-7 directorYogi Felimon Ruiz, who has joined the Bureau of Customs.
PDEA-7 officer-in-charge Ana Lynn Hernandez-Nob, however, said there is still no definite date as to when Margate could start his duties since he still has other official commitments outside the country.
Nonetheless, Nob said PDEA-7 already received yesterday a memorandum from the central office designating Margate's new assignment.
Just last Tuesday, President Duterte announced that the fight against illegal drugs will now be the sole responsibility of PDEA. As a result, the police, which have been taking the lead in the drug war since Duterte assumed office last year, have already stopped conducting all anti-drug programs and initiatives.
Among Margate's challenges in his new assignment is the lack of manpower. According to Hernandez, PDEA-7 only has a total of 95 employees, only 49 of whom are drug enforcers.
PDEA-7's jurisdiction includes the provinces of Cebu, Bohol, Siquijor, and Negros Oriental.
The police, for their part, are willing to support PDEA's fight against drugs in terms of gathering intelligence reports, especially on high-value drug personalities, according to Senior Superintendent Jonathan Cabal, chief of the Regional Intelligence Division-7.
“We will help the PDEA in whatever capacity, like intelligence-gathering. Yun naman ang utos ng regional director (Chief Superintendent Jose Mario Espino) natin to coordinate with the PDEA. We cannot simply shy away from our mandate to really serve and protect the public,” Cabal said yesterday.
But Cabal clarified that police will still conduct drug arrest when a suspect is caught red-handed or “in flagrante delicto,” meaning an individual is found in possession of any form of suspected shabu or illegal drug paraphernalia.
“Considering the fact that a drug transaction is happening right in front of our eyes, we cannot turn a blind eye on that,” he said.
Cabal also dismissed the possibility that the supply of illegal drugs will increase in the region with the PNP out of the picture when it comes to drug arrests and operations. He said he has to see the trend first.
Asked which agency is better suited for ridding the country of drugs, Cabal said he would leave it to the community's best judgment.
“If the public wants the PNP to help or be active again, it will be the community who will be asking or clamoring. In Region-7, we do things differently. We uphold the human rights, we respect the rule of law,” Cabal said.
Meanwhile, all drug enforcement units in Cebu City Police Office and Cebu Provincial Police Office will be disbanded and augmented to other police units for investigation, traffic, or patrol.
Cebu City Police Office Director Senior Superintendent Joel Doria said his personnel will now devote their attention to curbing murder, homicide, theft, robbery, physical injuries, car and motorcycle theft, and rape cases.
Doria assured though that Oplan Pokemon, a weekly drive involving all of the 11 police stations of the city, will continue but with a new focus on illegal gamblers and other city ordinance violators.
Emerson Margate (right), PDEA director in Bicol region, receives a plaque of appreciation from Naga City Dangerous Drugs Board executive director Jose Importante after a Barangay Anti-Drug Abuse Council enhancement training in Naga City last March. Margate has been named the new director of PDEA-Central Visayas.