Despite being short of manpower, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) in Bohol assures of its commitment to take up once again its lead role in the war on drugs.
PDEA-Bohol head Agent Nicholas Gomez said their office may lack operatives but the handicap cannot be an excuse for them not to sustain what the Duterte administration has achieved in the anti-illegal drug campaign.
Even as Gomez expressed concern over the agency’s lack of personnel, he noted the reliability of the Philippine National Police (PNP) units’ cooperation in their operations.
In recent years, the role of the local PDEA office has been reduced to coordination made by PNP units conducting their anti-drug operations. Gomez says they could now build on their strong ties with the PNP to fulfill the mandates of their agency.
President Rodrigo Duterte recently issued a memorandum reinstating the PDEAs responsibility as the sole agency to carry out the war on drugs.
“While we are truly lacking in manpower to take on this task, we are optimistic that we could tap the local PNP units in fighting the drug problem in the province,” Gomez said.
Gomez said that PNP units can still conduct planned operations such as buy-bust and in flagrante arrests as long as it has been properly coordinated with their office.
The PDEA-Bohol head recognizes the drug problem in Bohol is still proliferating despite the reduction of supply of shabu coming from Cebu.
According to Gomez, shabu dealers still manage to smuggle the illegal substance to Bohol.
“We ask for a continued community involvement especially in information gathering,” Gomez said.
He bared the PDEA-Bohol office has also benefitted from budgetary support being extended by the provincial government, which they need if their agency would have to carry out frequent anti-drug operations.
Presently, the PDEA’s local office only has five agents, as indicated in the latest personnel data disclosed by the agency.
President Duterte’s directive mandated all law enforcement agencies including the military to “leave to the PDEA” the conduct of anti-illegal drug operations.
Meanwhile, the PNP was relegated to “maintain police visibility as a deterrent to illegal drug activities.”
Duterte’s directive came after the release of a Social Weather Stations survey which indicated a sharp decline in his satisfaction and trust ratings.
The president’s net satisfaction rating, although still considered “good,” dipped by 18 points to 48, according to the September poll with 1,200 Filipino respondents.
Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo, through national media, earlier ascribed the rating decline to the alleged drug-related killing of three minors by PNP personnel in Metro Manila.
In late January, the PNP and the National Bureau of Investigation were temporarily barred from conducting anti-illegal drug operations in the wake of a scandal involving the abduction and murder of South Korean trader Jee Ick-Joo inside Camp Crame on Oct. 18, 2016.
Both law enforcement agencies rejoined the anti-drug campaign a month after the suspension.