PDEA vows EJK-free, transparent anti-drug operations
There will be no human rights abuses and extrajudicial killings (EJKs) in the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA)’s anti-narcotics operations as it assumes full role in implementing President Rodrigo Duterte’s controversial war on drugs, its chief vowed on Friday.
PDEA Director General Aaron Aquino assured that all anti-illegal drug operations would strictly follow rules and regulations as allegations of widespread human rights violations marred the government’s bloody crackdown.
Duterte ordered on Tuesday the Philippine National Police (PNP), the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and other agencies to “leave to the PDEA” the implementation of his war on drugs.
“Sa amin wala naman talagang ganyan e. Wala naman talagang abuses. Kaya lang, dinadagdagan ko na lang ng ganyan para to have an assurance sa mga tao na very transparent ang PDEA,” Aquino said in a phone interview with INQUIRER.net.
(There really are no abuses under the PDEA’s watch. I am just stating that because I want to assure the public that the PDEA is very transparent.)
Since the government implemented its violent campaign last year, 28 drug suspects and 11 PDEA agents have already been killed, Aquino said.
“I feel deeply that the 28 drug personalities that died since July up to present (in antidrug operations) being conducted by PDEA were all (results of) legitimate operations,” he said.
Aquino said the agency would make it mandatory for all its agents to wear body cams during operations “to assure the public that all our operations will be legitimate,” and no rights would be violated.
“So that everything would be transparent,” he added.
He also invited the press to cover operations, a suggestion that had been floated by the PNP, to record whatever transpires during raids.
“I’m inviting all media to join me in all our operations, it would be open, our people would be wearing body cams, just to prove ‘yung mga media pwede nilang irecord lahat ng ginagawa naming sa loob, lahat ng nangyari d’on (that the media could record everything we do during raids, all that transpired),” Aquino said.
“I want to have it recorded para kung may problema man d’on, imbestigahan at parusahan, ‘yun lang naman ‘yon (so if there is any problem, we can investigate and hold them to account, that is all),” he added.
Managing through limitations
But more than anything else, Aquino said the PDEA has greater problems to address given the huge task designated to them by the President: its lack of manpower and resources.
Aquino explained the agency only has 1,100 agents nationwide—or a mere average of 64 agents per region. It also lacks funds and equipment—for 2018, PDEA’s proposed operational budget only amounts to P900 million.
And in order to cover the limitations of the agency, Aquino said that the PDEA would still tap the PNP’s help during operations.
“We will tap the PNP for operation, ‘di kasi pwedeng kami lang given our limitations in manpower and equipment, kailangan pa rin namin kasama sila,” he said.
(We will tap the PNP for operation because we cannot do it all given our limitations in manpower and equipment, we still need them.)
“Para in case naman nagkaroon ng firefight at ma-pin down ng PDEA, s’yempre mabuhay din naman ang mga tauhan sa operations, diba?”
(So that in case firefight ensues, and PDEA pins down the suspects, our agents will comeo out alive after operations.) /idl
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.