FDA’s enforcement unit now has 4 armed agents

THE FOOD and Drug Administration will have four armed agents under the Regulatory Enforcement Unit (REU) in enforcing goverment regulations.

In an interview at the sidelines of the weekly Kapehan sa SM Monday, FDA regulatory officer Arnold Alindada told reporters that the four agents underwent training from military instructors of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

He said the training is ongoing, and that there will also be trainings being conducted by foreign agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation by next year.

“We hope to deploy these people by next year,” Alindada said.

Alindada described the unit to be similar in nature to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA). He even underwent the same training so he can lead the team.

However, Alindada lamented that four people may not be enough to cover the entire Eastern Mindanao.

The FDA official said the agents have been armed to help enforce Republic Act 9711 or the Food and Drug Administration Act of 2009.

RA 9711 was passed to strengthen and rationalize the regulatory capacity of the agency, then called the Bureau of Food and Drugs, by establishing adequate testing laboratories and field offices, upgrading equipment and augmenting its human resource complement, among others.

It was through this law that the agency was renamed.

Alindada said the agency’s mandate is to help enforce regulatory laws, including the monitoring of medicines and cosmetics being sold online.

He said that at the moment, the agency was still ironing out its operations and scope of work.

The operations that would be conducted by the agents would be in coordination with law enforcement agencies, such as the Philippine National Police.

The Food and Drug Administration Act establishes the REU which is composed of at least five qualified personnel in every region who shall be directly under the control and supervision of the Deputy Director-General for Field Regulatory Operations.

According to the law, the agents shall be classified as law enforcement agents, bear arms and wear official uniforms and badges.

The agents would serve and execute the rulings, orders and decisions of the FDA director-general.

They would also be empowered to execute and serve search and arrest warrants issued by the courts in connection with violations of the FDA law.

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