FOR any sector to say that the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) is not capable of eradicating drug trafficking and abuse in this impoverished Southeast Asian nation is a little bit too much.
Although it lacks financial and manpower resources, PDEA is steadfast and resolute in attaining its goal of transforming the Philippines into a drug-free country.
People concede that the men and women in PDEA uniform are outnumbered by drug pushers and users, but they will never be outfought.
Besides, PDEA can always seek assistance of other law enforcement agencies, including the 175,000-strong Philippine National Police (PNP), in the conduct of anti-illegal drug operations in various parts of the country.
“Alam ko mahihirapan kami. There will be a lot of obstacles and challenges along the way. But I can assure the public na kakayanin namin itong trabaho na ito,” said PDEA chief Director-General Aaron N. Aquino.
At present, there are only more than 1,100 drug enforcement agents (DEAs) of PDEA, the law enforcement arm of the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB).
Aquino said that not all PDEA personnel are DEAs, explaining that there are chemists and administrative staff.
PDEA spokesman Director Derrick Carreon said that President Duterte’s marching order is for the agency to stop the drug abuse problem in the country by all means that the law allows.
“The fight will be relentless and it will be sustained,” he added.
But as Aquino said, the anti-drug campaign will be less bloody, with PDEA operatives ordered to fire at drug offenders in self-defense.
As a retired police general, Aquino is in a position to spearhead the total war against the drug menace, which is one of the major problems confronting the government and the Filipino people.