In an effort to stop drug smuggling, transportation and transshipment using the country’s vast expanse of coastlines, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and the National Coast Watch Center (NCWC) signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) at the PDEA National Headquarters, Quezon City on Tuesday.
The MOA signing was held in simple rites with main signatories PDEA Director General Aaron N. Aquino and Admiral Joel S. Garcia, Director, NCWC. The activity was witnessed by key officials and personnel from both government agencies.
“Under the agreement, PDEA and the NCWC have agreed to closely coordinate and render mutual assistance in the interdiction of illegal drugs and controlled precursors and essential chemicals (CPECs) entering into the Philippine shores,” Aquino said.
Both parties also agreed to hold regular meetings for the purpose of discussing operational matters, the current status of the programs, and the formulation of necessary strategies to facilitate the accomplishments of the MOA’s objectives; and exchange best practices and knowledge through seminar-workshops for a more resolute and efficient maritime and coastal monitoring of suspected attempts of drug smuggling,” Aquino said.
In addition, PDEA shall establish a comprehensive information collection plan to obtain information on illegal drug activities form sources at all levels, and shall take the lead role in narcotics investigation and the conduct of anti-drug operations, while NCWC shall assist the former in collecting, processing, analyzing and gathering information to prevent the entry of illegal drugs through the coastlines.
According to Aquino, the MOA also paved the way for the assignment of one PDEA personnel (on rotation basis) at the NCWC to monitor the movement of all vessels traversing the country’s archipelago.
The agreement between PDEA and NCWC is the first between the two agencies.
The NCWC is an inter-agency maritime surveillance and coordinated response facility established through Executive Order No. 57 Series of 2011.
“PDEA had sealed pacts with government agencies known to address the country’s maritime security challenges, thus creating a culture that facilitates a whole-of-government approach to prevent our waters from becoming transit and dropping points for large volumes of illegal drugs,” the PDEA chief said.
To curb the shipment, delivery and transportation of illegal drugs and CPECs using the ports and high seas, PDEA also established seaport interdiction units assigned in 13 key seaports nationwide, and entered into agreements with the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA), Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA).