Senate president says time to pass law for just one agency to handle anti-drug enforcement
THE DEADLY shootout in a busy commercial area Wednesday night between members of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and the police warrants the passage of the bill seeking to create a unified drug enforcement body, Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III said. “The ‘misencounter’ between PDEA and PNP (Philippine National Police) shows the wisdom and ripeness of my bill creating a united Presidential Drug Enforcement Authority,” Mr. Sotto told reporters via Viber on Thursday. Mr. Sotto in July 2019 filed Senate Bill No. 3, which seeks to create the drug enforcement authority that will be under the police. The measure aims to “further strengthen” the fight against illegal drugs by “unifying the four major programs of enforcement, prosecution, prevention, and rehabilitation, under one agency.” If passed into law, PDEA and the Dangerous Drugs Board will be dissolved and the former’s functions will be exercised by the police. “This fiasco will not be the last if we do not act on this soon,” he said.
Senator Risa N. Hontiveros-Baraquel said she will file a resolution to conduct a Senate investigation on the incident, noting that there was a “dramatic lack of coordination” between the agencies. “We need to look into this further. It is very alarming that this is not the first time that such a ‘misencounter’ has happened. The National Capital Region Police Office did admit that this has happened numerous times. These ‘misencounters’ should be rare, not common,” she said in a statement. The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) is also conducting a separate probe on the incident upon the order of Justice Secretary Menardo I. Guevarra. The NBI’s investigation “is separate and distinct” from that being jointly conducted by the two agencies, Mr. Guevarra said. The gun battle between police and PDEA agents outside a shopping mall and fastfood restaurant in Quezon City left at least two cops and one still unidentified person dead and four others injured, based on reports as of Wednesday evening. Police chief Debold M. Sinas announced the creation of a PNP-PDEA Board of Inquiry for a joint investigation.