PDEA to expand grassroots operations
CITY OF SAN FERNANDO — The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) is expanding the anti-drug campaign of President Duterte at the grassroots level by hiring 500 more enforcers and establishing 81 provincial offices and five districts in 2018, according to its secretary general, Aaron Aquino.
Allotted a P2.5-billion budget next year, the PDEA would buy more guns, vehicles, drug-sniffing dogs and communication equipment, Aquino said.
In a yearend report, he said the agency would strengthen its partnership with local and international counterparts, coordinate closely with the Philippine Air Force, Philippine Navy, Philippine Coast Guard and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources for joint anti-illegal drug operations in Philippine high seas to prevent ship side smuggling.
PDEA will also set up offices in 13 major seaports and form task forces in international airports and strengthen its capacity to conduct financial investigations and freeze assets of drug lords and financiers.
Aquino said PDEA would embark on an active advocacy campaign and push for the creation of reformation centers called “Balay Silangan” for drug users who surrender.
In these centers, former drug users will be given livelihood and training, after care services as well as community and social reintegration programs to be done by government and non-government organizations.
“The fight against drugs in the country is a serious battle,” said Aquino, who was appointed PDEA head in September.
In October, Mr. Duterte tasked the PDEA, which has only 1,251 drug enforcers, with leading the anti-drug campaign. This month, he tapped the Philippine National Police to again assist the PDEA.
From Sept. 12 to Dec. 20, the PDEA and other agencies conducted 6,858 anti-drug operations that arrested 7,990 drug suspects. The agency filed 4,454 drug cases and seized P278.9 million worth of drugs, mostly shabu (cystal meth).
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