Thursday, December 7, 2017
ILOILO City – The Police Regional Office 6 (PRO-6) is resuming operations against illegal drugs in Western Visayas but it is not taking the lead in the campaign.
In Memorandum Order No. 17, President Rodrigo Duterte directed the Philippine National Police (PNP) to “resume providing active support to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) in the conduct of anti-illegal drug operations.”
PRO-6 spokesperson Superintendent Gilbert Gorero assured Western Visayans, “We are committed to the people” even if PDEA stays as the lead agency in the drug war.
He, however, stressed the importance of community vigilance and cooperation.
PDEA only has 32 personnel serving Region 6.
Last month, PRO-6 director Chief Superintendent Cesar Hawthorne Binag said their campaign against illegal drugs was continuing even if policemen were not conducting the operations themselves in deference to PDEA.
Cops were sharing drug-related intelligence information to t he agency, said Binag.
PDEA-6 director Wardley Getalla lamented that without the police’s help, the agency was having difficulty catching high-value drug targets.
In Camp Crame, the headquarters of the PNP, Director General Ronald Dela Rosa ordered yesterday the mandatory use of body cameras for policemen conducting antidrug operations.
He also reminded policemen to observe extreme caution, and focus on their ranks’ internal cleansing.
“PDEA welcomes the decision of the President. It has been the desire of PDEA that the PNP will return in the fight against illegal drugs,” said PDEA director general Aaron Aquino in Manila.
He acknowledged the need for other law enforcement agencies to participate in the campaign, saying his agency is “undermanned, underequipped and inadequately funded.”
From the time it was given the sole responsibility in anti-drug operations, PDEA conducted a total of 2,161 anti-drug operations nationwide from Oct. 11, 2017 to Dec. 4, 2017 resulting in the arrest of 750 drug personalities and seizure of P104.10 million worth of illegal drugs.
PDEA-6 had long been grappling with logistical challenges. In May last year, then regional director Paul Ledesma said they only had 27 personnel running after drug traffickers in the region’s 3,389 barangays spread in five provinces (Iloilo, Guimaras, Capiz, Aklan, and Antique; Negros Occidental was then still with the Negros Island Region) with a total of 95 municipalities and three cities.
In ordering the PNP and other law enforcement agencies – National Bureau of Investigation, Armed Forces of the Philippines, Bureau of Customs, and Philippine Postal Corp. – to rejoin in the war against illegal drugs, the President noted that while PDEA made significant strides, the agency “has been seriously hampered in performing its huge mandate by lack of resources, specifically agents, and operatives who can penetrate drug-infested areas down to the municipal and barangay levels.”
Duterte’s memorandum likewise said there had been a resurgence of illegal drugs as well as crimes committed since the PNP and the other law enforcement agencies yielded to PDEA the conduct of all anti-illegal drugs operations./PN