MANILA -- The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) on Thursday concluded its three-month K9-unit basic handler’s course attended 22 participants from the agency and counterparts from the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP), Philippine National Police-Police Regional Office-Cordillera (PNP PRO-COR) and Philippine Marines.

PDEA Director General Aaron Aquino said the course seeks to enable the participants to appreciate and understand how a K9-unit team works effectively and efficiently as front liners during anti-drug operations and enhance handlers’ connection with their respective dogs as future K-9 team supervisors.

“The 12-week course enabled the participants to acquire the necessary knowledge, skills and techniques in handling narcotics detection dogs (NDDs) and acquaint them with scenarios that require K9 operations and special tactics, including greyhound operations in correctional facilities, check-point operations and airport and seaport interdictions,” Aquino said after the graduation ceremony of the PDEA K9 Basic Handlers Course Class 2017-03 on Thursday held at the PDEA National Headquarters in Quezon City.

The PDEA K9-unit has 52 strong NDDs composed of 32 Belgian Malinoises, five Jack Russell Terriers, 11 Labrador Retrievers, two German Shepherds and two Golden Retrievers, and 57 handlers in 17 regions nationwide.

Aquino said the course allowed participants to familiarize themselves with substances subject for detection; understanding of K9 behavior and the five basic freedoms of animals, receive training regarding search patterns and to detect hazards; basic knowledge in airport and port operations and safety guidelines, among others.

“These canines, when properly trained and ably assisted by humans, can be inexpensive, low technology but proven indispensable assets against the ongoing drug problem in the country,” the PDEA chief said.

PDEA has requested for an additional PHP934 million budget in 2018 to finance several projects in the pipeline, which includes the acquisition of 13 NDDs with training worth P500,000 each.

In a related development, PDEA and the local government of San Jose del Monte City, Bulacan (SJDMC) signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for the donation of 1,000 square meters parcel of land in the jurisdiction of the city.

Aquino said the MOU sealed the partnership between PDEA and SJDMC, and the parcel of land donated will be utilized in putting-up a K9 facility for the agency’s narcotic dogs that are considered indispensable assets in the conduct of drug operations.

Aquino and Mayor Arthur B. Robes inked the agreement in a simple ceremony held at the PDEA National Headquarters on Thursday.

The MOU signing was witnessed by SJDMC Rep. Florida Robes. (PNA)