PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) headed by retired police general Aaron N. Aquino to take charge of all government anti-narcotics operations, thus stripping the Philippine National Police and other law enforcement agencies of their authority to wage a campaign against illegal drug trafficking and abuse.
In a memorandum, the President said that pursuant to provisions of Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 “and in order to bring order to the operation/campaign against illegal drugs, thus pinpointing precise accountability , I hereby direct the NBI, PNP, Armed Forces of the Philippines, Bureau of Customs, Philippine Postal Office and all other agencies or any and all ad hoc anti-drug task force, to leave to the PDEA, as sole agency, the conduct of all campaign and operations against all those who, directly or indirectly, and in whatever manner or capacity are involved in or connected with illegal drugs.”
“All information/data received by the NBI, PNP, AFP, Bureau of Customs, Philippine Post Office and all other agencies or and all ad hoc anti-drug task forces shall fortwith be relayed, delivered or brought to the attention of the PDEA for its appropriate action,” he added.
The President however ordered that “the PNP shall at all times, maintain police visibility, as a deterrent to illegal drug activities leaving to the PDEA however the conduct of anti-illegal drug operations as aforestated.”
PNP spokesman Chief Superintendent Dionardo B. Carlos said “we will follow the order of the Commander-in-Chief and the Chief Executive.”
PNP Drug Enforcement Group director Chief Supt. Graciano J. Mijares issued the same statement. “We are yet to officially receive any order but we will abide and follow PRRD’s directives to the letter. We would just wait for the guidance of the Chief, PNP,” Mijares said.
Section 82 of RA 9165 created the PDEA to serve as the implementing arm of the Dangerous Drugs Board. It “shall be responsible for the efficient and effective law enforcement of all the provisions on any dangerous drug and/or controlled precursor and essential chemical as provided in RA 9165,” the law says.
RA 9165 says that among the powers of the PDEA are the following:
* Implement or cause the efficient and effective implementation of the national drug control strategy formulated by the Board thereby carrying out a national drug campaign program which shall include drug law enforcement, control and prevention campaign with the assistance of concerned government agencies;
* Undertake the enforcement of the provisions of Article II of this Act relative to the unlawful acts and penalties involving any dangerous drug and/or controlled precursor and essential chemical and investigate all violators and other matters involved in the commission of any crime relative to the use, abuse or trafficking of any dangerous drug and/or controlled precursor and essential chemical as provided for in this Act and the provisions of Presidential Decree No. 1619;
* Arrest and apprehend as well as search all violators and seize or confiscate, the effects or proceeds of the crimes as provided by law and take custody thereof, for this purpose the prosecutors and enforcement agents are authorized to possess firearms, in accordance with existing laws;
* Take charge and have custody of all dangerous drugs and/or controlled precursors and essential chemicals seized, confiscated or surrendered to any national, provincial or local law enforcement agency, if no longer needed for purposes of evidence in court;
* Recommend to the Department of Justice the forfeiture of properties and other assets of persons and/or corporations found to be violating the provisions of this Act and in accordance with the pertinent provisions of the Anti-Money-Laundering Act of 2001;
* Prepare for prosecution or cause the filing of appropriate criminal and civil cases for violation of all laws on dangerous drugs, controlled precursors and essential chemicals, and other similar controlled substances, and assist, support and coordinate with other government agencies for the proper and effective prosecution of the same;
* Monitor, and if warranted by circumstances, in coordination with the Philippine Postal Office and the Bureau of Customs, inspect all air cargo packages, parcels and mails in the central post office, which appear from the package and address itself to be a possible importation of dangerous drugs and/or controlled precursors and essential chemicals, through on-line or cyber shops via the internet or cyberspace;
— Establish and maintain a national drug intelligence system in cooperation with law enforcement agencies, other government agencies/offices and local government units that will assist in its apprehension of big-time drug lords.