MANILA -- The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) on Wednesday vowed to deliver tangible results in the national anti-drug campaign and assured that the campaign against hard drugs would be less bloody.
“All we need are words of support and encouragement not minding the detractions that come PDEA’s way as the solitary authority to lead the country’s war against illegal drugs,” said PDEA Director General Aaron N. Aquino.
PDEA made the assurance in the wake of criticism from various groups opposing the government's anti-drug campaign.
Human rights group Amnesty International (AI) earlier slammed President Rodrigo Roa Duterte's memorandum tasking PDEA to take the lead in the conduct of anti-drug operations nationwide with the Philippine National Police (PNP) largely relegated to the sidelines.
“PDEA is mandated to bring order to the national anti-drug campaign which sits alongside the precise accountability for it. However, some people are already diminishing PDEA that is doomed to fail even before it hardly gets its feet wet. We must do what is supposed to be done in the hope of silencing our critics,” Aquino said.
The PDEA chief assured that the war on drugs would be less bloody and would follow the rule of law now that the Agency was the sole authority to conduct anti-drug operations.
“From body-worn cameras to accompanying media presence, these would ensure a culture of transparency in our day-to-day operations in the streets,” he said.
From July 1, 2016 to present, only 28 drug personalities who fought it out with PDEA agents were killed during legitimate operations.
The Senate Finance Committee is set to allocate an operational budget of PHP2.6-billion for PDEA in 2018.
On the other hand, some members of the House of Representatives mull to realign the PHP900-million budget of the PNP’s “Oplan Tokhang” and “Oplan Double Barrel Reloaded” which are suspended indefinitely, to augment the PDEA’s budget.
“Additional budget allocation for PDEA will go a long way in enhancing the Agency’s capabilities by hiring more agents and personnel and purchasing modern equipment to keep pace with drug syndicates,” Aquino noted.
“PDEA is obliged to do more with less. Though undermanned, under equipped and inadequately funded, we will not let the public down. We will deliver what is expected of us,” the PDEA chief said.
With only 1,038 agents, Aquino said the agency would coordinate with the Department of the Interior and Local Government and local government units (LGUs) for the continuation of drug-clearing efforts in barangays.
“The obvious lack of personnel is indeed a point of concern since our presence is only on the regional level and with some skeletal provincial offices. But we will closely link up with the barangays for the continuation of the barangay drug-clearing program,” he said Friday.
Aquino noted that PDEA continues to encourage the Barangay Anti-Drug Abuse Council (BADAC) of every community to get more involved in the anti-drug campaign by reporting suspicious illegal drug activities in their neighborhood.
The BADACs were deputized and empowered to plan and implement strategic policies, and evaluate programs and projects on drug prevention and control, given the political and police powers of the barangay to administer the affairs of the community.
Earlier, Aquino announced that PDEA needed highly qualified professionals to fill up 373 vacancies.
PDEA has an approved 2,271 regular positions, 1,898 of which are filled up and deployed nationwide. The list of vacant plantilla positions is published in the agency’s official website.
Interested applicants may send their application letters addressed to Aaron N. Aquino, Director General, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, NIA Northside Road, National Government Center, Barangay Pinyahan, Quezon City.
Aquino said the agency continues to provide employment opportunities by opening its doors to those who aspire to become part of the country’s anti-drug organization.
“This is an opportunity for those who want to join the fight in ridding our country of illegal drugs and be part of an elite drug law enforcement group. Be part of the PDEA family -Professional, Dynamic, Excellence-driven and Accountable public servants with credibility and competency in leading a drug-free Philippines,” Aquino said in a statement. (PNA)