Duterte: Only PDEA can operate vs illegal drugs

Thursday, October 12, 2017

MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte has directed the Philippine National Police (PNP), National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Bureau of Customs (BOC), and all other agencies or ad hoc task forces to stop conducting antidrug operations.

According to a memorandum Duterte signed on Tuesday, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) will henceforth be the sole agency that can conduct antidrug operations pursuant to Republic Act (RA) 9165, or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.

Duterte issued the directive “to bring order to the operation/campaign against illegal drugs, thus pinpointing precise accountability.”

The memorandum directed the NBI, PNP, AFP, BOC, Philippine Postal Office, and all other agencies, as well as all ad hoc antidrug task forces to immediately “relay, deliver and bring” to the attention of the PDEA all information they received for its appropriate action.

“The PNP, shall at all times, maintain police visibility, as a deterrent to illegal drug activities, leaving to the PDEA, however, the conduct of anti-illegal drug operations as aforestated,” the memo said.

Under Article IX, Section 84 of RA 9165, PDEA is mandated, among others, to:

(a) Implement or cause the efficient and effective implementation of the national drug control strategy formulated by the Board (Dangerous Drugs Board) thereby carrying out a national drug campaign program which shall include drug law enforcement, control and prevention campaign with the assistance of concerned government agencies.

(b) Undertake the enforcement of the provisions of Article II of this Act relative to the unlawful acts and penalties involving any dangerous drug and/or controlled precursor and essential chemical and investigate all violators and other matters involved in the commission of any crime relative to the use, abuse or trafficking of any dangerous drug and/or controlled precursor and essential chemical as provided for in this Act and the provisions of Presidential Decree No. 1619.

(c) Arrest and apprehend as well as search all violators and seize or confiscate, the effects or proceeds of the crimes as provided by law and take custody thereof, for this purpose the prosecutors and enforcement agents are authorized to possess firearms, in accordance with existing laws.

(d) Monitor and if warranted by circumstances, in coordination with the Philippine Postal Office and the Bureau of Customs, inspect all air cargo packages, parcels and mails in the central post office, which appear from the package and address itself to be a possible importation of dangerous drugs and/or controlled precursors and essential chemicals, through on-line or cyber shops via the internet or cyberspace.

RA 9165 further states that, “Nothing in this Act shall mean a diminution of the investigative powers of the NBI and the PNP on all other crimes as provided for in their respective organic laws:

“Provided, however, that when the investigation being conducted by the NBI, PNP or any ad hoc antidrug task force is found to be a violation of any of the provisions of this Act, the PDEA shall be the lead agency.

“The NBI, PNP or any of the task force shall immediately transfer the same to the PDEA: Provided, further, that the NBI, PNP and the Bureau of Customs shall maintain close coordination with the PDEA on all drug-related matters.”

Duterte’s directive was issued following allegations of human rights abuses committed by the PNP in the government’s war on drugs.

This is also the second time that Duterte ordered the PNP to stop all antidrug operations.

On Jan. 30 Duterte instructed the PNP to dismantle all its anti-illegal drug units and “cleanse its ranks” of corrupt personnel following the kidnapping and murder of a South Korean businessman inside Camp Crame.

On Feb. 27, the President allowed the PNP limited participation in the antidrug campaign through smaller task forces.

On March 6, the PNP officially relaunched its campaign against drugs dubbed “Oplan Double Barrel Alpha Reloaded.” (PNA)