PDEA chief aims for drug-free Philippines by 2022

Emmanuel Tupas (The Philippine Star) - January 10, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency is aiming to make 5,000 barangays drug-free every year and the country cleared of the drug problem by the time President Duterte steps down in 2022, PDEA chief Aaron Aquino said on Monday.

To reach this goal, Aquino ordered the agency’s regional directors to intensify the campaign against illegal drugs by conducting an average of 30 to 40 operations a month.

He also formed a committee that will monitor the progress of the PDEA regional offices in the war on drugs.

“They must reach that target,” Aquino said in a television interview aired over GMA-7’s “Bawal ang Pasaway” hosted by Winnie Monsod on Monday.

Last year, the PDEA said 20,872 or 49.65 percent of the 42,036 barangays in the country were drug-affected.

As of Dec. 5, the agency said 5,077 barangays across the country have been cleared of the drug problem.

PDEA spokesman Derrick Carreon said aside from setting a target of clearing 5,000 barangays of illegal drugs per year, they must also ensure that drug-free areas would no longer be affected.

“The figures are fluctuating,” Carreon said.

He noted the possibility that areas that have been cleared of drugs could be again infiltrated by drug traffickers.

“We must ensure these barangays maintain their cleared status,” Carreon said.

President Duterte has appointed the PDEA as the lead agency in the government’s war on drugs in accordance with the provisions of Republic Act 9165, or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act.

The agency has a limited manpower of 2,313 officers and personnel.

Of the number, only 1,251 are drug enforcement officers.

Aquino earlier said they need the support of other law enforcement agencies such as the Philippine National Police in carrying out its mandate.

For this year, the PDEA is hiring 500 anti-narcotics agents to boost its manpower.

Applicants should be 21 to 35 years old, must possess a college degree and civil service eligibility or qualified by the Civil Service Commission under special laws.

Successful applicants will undergo a six-month training course where they will be taught about the provisions of RA 9165 as well as rules on criminal procedures.

Aquino said only three drug suspects who fought PDEA agents have been killed since he assumed the post in September last year.

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