Negros Oriental Council prefers PNP back in drug war lead

Judy Flores Partlow (The Freeman) - November 24, 2017 - 4:00pm

DUMAGUETE CITY, Philippines — The Provincial Peace and Order Council of Negros Oriental is hoping the Philippine National Police will be back in the lead in the war against illegal drugs, noting a remarkably low output of the provincial Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).

During the PPOC's regular monthly meeting on Tuesday, many members expressed hope that the PNP would once again take over the campaign against illegal drugs, said Senior Superintendent Edwin Portento, acting director of the Negros Oriental Police Provincial Office (NORPPO).

Portento said the PDEA in the province reported a total of six anti-illegal drugs operations only for the entire month of October and part of November. Of the number, four were conducted jointly with the police, while only two were solely PDEA operations, he said.

The low output is attributed to the lack of manpower of the PDEA in Negros Oriental, with only six personnel to include their provincial chief, Jason Cabataña.

The decline in the number of anti-illegal drugs operations in the province started sometime in early October after President Rodrigo Duterte announced he was giving the PDEA the authority to lead in the drugs war, in lieu of the PNP, Portento said.

During the PPOC meeting, the PDEA asked when the PNP would resume taking the lead role in the illegal drugs campaign in the province, but Portento replied that they had  not received any word yet from the PNP higher headquarters.

"Until such time that the president will say so, the PNP will just be playing a support role to the PDEA," said Portento. Duterte had announced a few days back that he would return the anti-illegal drugs leadership to the PNP if the problem got worse.

In the meantime, the NORPPO is also conducting its own demand-reduction activities such as community engagement and dialogues to increase public awareness on the illegal drugs problem, Portento said.

According to him, they are doing an informal survey on what the community and the PPOC members want in relation to the drugs problem. "We're making our own evaluation at the moment," he said.

Portento said OIC Governor Mark Macias has expressed sadness over the measly output of the PDEA and was looking at how the PPOC and the province could help the agency.

However, the yearend is drawing near and so it would be difficult to release some financial assistance to the PDEA here, he added. (FREEMAN)

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