Drug pushers back; PNP help needed — PDEA chief
Local governments are clamoring for a return of the Philippine National Police to the campaign against illegal drugs amid a reported resurgence in the narcotics trade, said the head of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) on Tuesday.
“Nagkaroon ng vacuum or absence ng police natin sa mga municipalities as far as the anti-illegal drugs drive is concerned,” PDEA Director General Isidro Lapeña told a forum at the Manila Hotel. (Municipalities are experiencing a vacuum or an absence of the police as far as the anti-illegal drugs drive is concerned)
Consequently, “nagkaroon ng movement ‘yung mga drug personalities to go back to their old ways,” Lapeña added. (Drug personalities are going back to their old ways)
Thus, Lapeña said he would welcome the PNP should it return to the anti-drug drive, adding that the PDEA was lacking the manpower to enforce the country’s anti-narcotics laws.
Under the law, PDEA is the lead agency in the government’s antidrug campaign.
Echoing the remarks of PNP chief Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, Lapeña said there was public clamor for the police to resume its war on drugs.
“There is a clamor for PNP to be involved again,” he added, citing “complaints from local government executives that drug peddlers have gone back.”
Last month, Dela Rosa, under the directive of President Rodrigo Duterte, suspended all police drug operations in the country following the murder of Korean businessman Jee Ick-joo inside police headquarters in Camp Crame.
Before the killing, policemen from the PNP-Anti Illegal Drugs Group and purported agents of the National Bureau of Investigation abducted Jee from his home in Angeles City in Pampanga province after accusing him of involvement in the drug trade.
On Monday, Dela Rosa said the PNP was ready to resume its antidrug operations because “the situation is getting worse.”
Saying he believes that there are still more upright policemen than rogue ones, Lapeña welcomed calls for the PNP to resume the drug war.
“PDEA has intensified our efforts, but with the limited manpower that we have, we give priority only to high value targets. The PDEA, given our mandate and limited personnel, will welcome additional manpower complement,” Lapeña said.
“The PNP, after cleansing their ranks, said it will get involved again. That will be a welcome development,” he added.
PDEA is set to sign a memorandum of agreement with the Armed Forces of the Philippines on Tuesday afternoon after President Rodrigo Duterte tapped the military to play a support role in the antidrug campaign.
The AFP earlier said it would form a battalion-size task force with a “strike force component” to support PDEA. A typical Philippine battalion consists of about 500 soldiers but the antidrug task force could be increased to up to 5,000 soldiers “depending on the situation.” CBB/rga
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
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.