PDEA taps AFP to ramp up anti-illegal drug operations

THE PHILIPPINE Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) in the region will intensify its anti-illegal drugs operations following the directive to suspend the PNP’s role in the Duterte administration’s drug war.

Adzhar Albani, PDEA regional director, confessed that their own operations may take a hit considering their limited number of personnel compared to the challenge at hand.

 “(On Tuesday) the PDEA director General and Armed Forces of the Philippines already discussed how they can hasten (the drug war.) Today, they are crafting an executive order for narcotics command to fill in for the suspension of the anti-drug units of the PNP,” he said.

For the meantime, the PDEA will coordinate with the AFP if they need support in any anti-drug operation.

“We will use them as manpower and we will not involve them in the filing of cases,” he said. “For now, they (soldiers) will serve as backup so there won’t be any difficulty.”

Initially, the anti-narcotics command will comprise members of the AFP. On Friday, an emergency command conference will be held to tackle the mechanism.

 “We will continue with the barangay clearing operations so whatever we started with the Toktok Hangyo, we will continue especially now that we already have a list,” he said.

The national office also requested 2,400 additional agents nationwide. In the region, the PDEA asked for 500 more personnel.

He also assured that they will continue to purge their personnel as part of their internal cleansing.

“In fact, we have a director who is under floating status because of the investigation conducted last year. More than 100 agents were also dismissed,” he added.

Col. Erwin Bernard Neri, the commander of Task Force Davao, said that they are ready to support the PDEA in its anti-illegal drug campaign.

“Will just wait for the official order for us to support them (PDEA),” Neri said.

Neri said they will need new trainings for the soldiers as they transition to law enforcement operations, but for now they are ready to provide backup manpower.

Maj.  Ezra Balagtey, spokesperson of Eastern Mindanao Command, they are taking steps to learn new tactics to effectively help the PDEA in its anti-drug operations.

Meanwhile, Chief Supt. Manuel Gaerlan said the decision to cut the role of the PNP in the drug war is the decision of the Commander in Chief and they have to abide by it.

“Now we can really focus on our task especially in the enforcement of other laws,” he said. “We can now focus on the street crimes, physical injuries and others.”

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