Thursday, March 2, 2017

PNP to reassume leading role in war vs drugs -- PDEA-Bicol exec
By Jorge Hallare

LEGAZPI CITY, March 1 (PNA) —- The spokesperson of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) in Bicol said that by Monday next week, the Philippine National Police will reassume its leading role in the government’s war against illegal drugs.

Cotton Yuzon, PDEA-Bicol spokesperson, said even as the PNP has been authorized anew to lead the anti-illegal drug operations, the police officers conducting the operations are obliged to coordinate first with the tactical operation center at PDEA’S regional office.

“Their (PNP) operation must be strictly supervised by agents of PDEA,” she said.

Yuzon said PDEA Director General Isidro Lapeňa is very strict in the implementation of the anti-illegal drugs operation.

She said Lapeňa wants PDEA-Bicol to strictly supervise all operations that will be conducted by all the police offices under the Police Regional Office in Bicol (PRO5).

“Gusto nya magbantay kami sa lahat nang operasyon," (He wants us to watch over all operations) she added.

Yuzon said Lapeňa was about to visit the office of PDEA-Bicol to be able to meet with the field officers who helped PDEA-Bicol attain number two ranking in the performance ratings being conducted by the national office but bad weather forced the cancellation of his flight to this city.

“The best province is Region 10 but we do not yet have the (complete) data on who among regions improved in their (performance) ratings,” she said.

Yuzon said there have been instructions that Lapeňa wanted to give personally but since his visit was aborted PDEA-Bicol Director Emerson Margate decided to push through with some activities that were prepared beforehand by the regional office for the visit.

She said Margate had directed all PDEA-Bicol personnel to undergo a drug test.

“The chemists of PDEA were the ones who conducted the drug testing with the result to be submitted to the Office of the Director General,” said Yuzon.

She confirmed reports from their intelligence officers that there were drug personalities in the Bicol region who resumed their illegal activities with the temporary suspension of Oplan Tokhang under the aegis of PNP.

"Pero ayon sa aming reports ay manageable pa ang paglabas ng drugs sa mga kalye dito sa Bicol" (But our reports said the illicit drug trade in the streets of Bicol is still of manageable proportion), said Yuzon.

Aside from the PNP, the Armed Forces of the Philippines particularly the Philippine Army, will also assist PDEA in the anti-drug operation, particularly in the areas where the proliferation of illegal drugs have been unabated, she added.

Yuzon said the PDEA chief and the AFP leadership had signed a memorandum yesterday about the partnership.

She said PDEA-Bicol has remained “very hopeful” that despite the very small number of PDEA personnel in Bicol the partnership forged by the PNP and AFP will boost the anti-illegal drug campaign.

Yuzon admitted PDEA-Bicol’s work force is only 78, nearly half of whom or 36 are drug enforcement officers working in the field.

“We have a minimum of five agents working in each province with the rest working in the regional office as chemist and administrative staff,” she said.

Yuzon said PNP and AFP support is of big help to PDEA since the five agents in each of the six Bicol provinces could not possibly cover all of the areas in the provinces.

Meanwhile, the PRO5 police officers and men led by Chief Supt. Ramon Buenafe held a meeting today with regards to the continuation of the PNP’s campaign against illegal drugs. (PNA) LAP/GVR/JH/CBD