The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA)has thanked Malacañang for the vote of confidence, and vowed to deliver tangible results in the national anti-drug campaign amid criticisms.
“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.
Malacañang is optimistic that PDEA can get the job done despite the interference of civil rights movements that fail to appreciate the government’s desire to achieve drug-resistant communities and eventually a drug-free nation.
Amnesty International (AI), a human rights group, has vilified the decision of President Rodrigo RoaDutertein a memorandum signed October 10, 2017 tasking PDEA to take the lead role in the conduct of anti-drug operations nationwide with the Philippine National Police (PNP) largely relegated to the sidelines.
AI sees the relief of the PNP and putting PDEA in charge of the anti-drug campaign as nothing short of a momentary publicity stunt designed to quell the growing public furor over the alleged brutality of the war on drugs.
“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 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 will be less bloody and will follow the rule of law now that the Agency is 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 agentswere killed during legitimate operations.
The Senate Finance Committee is set to allocate an operational budget of P2.6-billion for PDEA in 2018. On the other hand, some members of the House of Representatives are mulling the idea to realign the P900-million budget of the PNP’s “OplanTokhang” and “Oplan Double Barrel Reloaded” which are suspended indefinitely, to augment the PDEA’s budget.
“Additional budget allocation for PDEA will go along 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.