“The war against illegal drugs remains unabated”.
Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Director General Isidro S. Lapeña issued the statement to allay public perception that the intensified campaign against illegal drugs of the government hit a snag following the recent deactivation of all anti-drug units of the Philippine National Police (PNP).
“PDEA will make adjustments in filling the gap left behind by the PNP by tapping other government agencies and the barangays as force multipliers to help in the national anti-drug campaign as provided by law,” said Lapeña.
“The PNP, though prevented to conduct anti-drug operations, shall maintain close coordination with the PDEA on all drug-related matters such as gathering, processing and validating anti-drug information and monitoring of drug personalities, including self-confessed drug users and pushers who voluntarily surrendered nationwide,” Lapeña added.
Other law enforcement agencies like the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the Bureau of Customs (BoC) shall continue to conduct anti-drug operations.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is likewise in the fold to reinforce anti-drug operations in hostile territories and mountainous areas during marijuana eradication operations.
To accelerate efforts against illegal drugs in communities and to promote involvement of local barangays in the suppression of drug trafficking and abuse, PDEA reiterates its call for the creation of anti-drug abuse councils nationwide.
Lapeña said that it is imperative that every barangay, as the first line of defense, must be self-policing and self-reliant against dangerous drugs.
“PDEA is not fighting a lonely battle from here on. We are bringing the fight to the grassroots level. We need everyone to follow our lead, get involved and contribute in the best way possible,” he said.
Some quarters have misgivings that PDEA cannot get the job done considering its limited manpower capability, with only 1,791 personnel, 928 of which are Drug Enforcement Officers or DEOs, who serve as front liners of the anti-drug campaign and presently deployed in regional offices across the country.
“Drug syndicates thought that there will be slackening in the pace of the national anti-drug campaign. They are wrong. The war on drugs has not waned. PDEA is coming in at full force and has no intentions of backing down from the challenge,” Lapeña said, adding that the Agency is all set to be “lean but mean” on drug personalities, whether syndicated or street-level pushing.
To bolster the Agency’s competence and capability, the PDEA Academy has embarked on an aggressive recruitment campaign program in recent years to entice brilliant and highly qualified professionals to join the government’s fight against the drug menace.
The PDEA has also intensified its internal cleansing efforts, as part of its commitment to weed out erring agents and personnel, particularly those involved in the illegal drug trade.
Lapeña ordered the Agency’s Internal Affairs Service (IAS) to expedite resolution on all pending administrative cases against PDEA officers and personnel who were previously charged in violation of the PDEA Code of Professional Conduct and Ethical Standards.
“Those charged will be accorded their individual rights to due process through meticulous investigation before disciplinary sanctions are imposed on them if they are found guilty,” Lapeña said.
“I am warning those who are contemplating on doing anomalous and criminal acts. I will impose punishment without hesitation. There will be zero-tolerance to those who fail to live up to the Agency’s core values: Professional; Dynamic; Excellence-Driven; and Accountable,” he said.
“PDEA continues to police its ranks and stands firm in the face of issues of integrity and credibility. This will restore trust and confidence in the country’s drug law enforcement system,” the PDEA chief said, promising a no-holds-barred approach to internal cleansing within the organization.
Since Lapeña took over the helm of PDEA’s leadership in July 2016, one (1) PDEA personnel was dismissed, seven (7) were dropped from the rolls, while thirty-six (36) were charged administratively for various offenses.
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