PHILIPPINE Drug Enforcement Agency chair Director General Aaron N. Aquino yesterday vowed that the war on drugs they will conduct following President Duterte’s order to take charge of the campaign will be “less bloody” with officers ordered to fire only at drug offenders in self-defense.
The retired police general told a television interview that he will see to it that all PDEA officers will follow their standard operating procedures and will not violate the law during the conduct of anti-narcotics operations.
As part of their transparency program, he invited the media to cover their anti-drug raids. “I’m asking all the media to join me in all my operations, you’re all welcome and lahat ng operations ko isama natin ang media, may body cams kami and everything,” the member of Philippine Military Academy ‘Sandiwa’ Class of 1985 said.
PDEA records showed that since July 1, 2016 -- the day President Duterte ordered a massive war on drugs — PDEA agents have only fatally shot 28 armed drug personalities during anti-narcotics operations.
“That’s true, mula nung July 1, 2016 up to present nagkaroon lang ng 28 victims ng patayan that involved illegal drugs, sila po yung nakalaban namin and I can assure the public that these 28 are legitimate operations,” he emphasized.
However, Aquino said they will still need the assistance of the Philippine National Police in the campaign against drugs since they lack manpower as the Agency has only more than 1,100 Drug Enforcement Agents which now will have to also operate on the grassroots level.
“Ang magli-lead ng operations lahat ay PDEA na po, hindi na pwedeng mag-lead ang ibang law enforcement agencies to include the PNP,” he said.
“At pwede pa rin kaming humingi ng tulong kasi nakasaad sa batas natin yan sa RA (Republic Act) 9165, that the PDEA can seek assistance of any law enforcement agencies in the conduct of illegal drugs,” he explained.
“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 ‘to, napakahirap dahil nga considering ang aming manpower ay dalawang libo lang kami and this is the number of personnel already operating in the region,” he said.
Aquino explained that not all PDEA personnel are Drug Enforcement Agents since they also have their administrative personnel plus the chemists. On the other hand, the PNP headed by Director General Ronald ‘Bato’ M. de la Rosa is composed of about 190,000 officers and men.
PDEA spokesman Director Derrick C. Carrreon said that Aquino’s order is clear: All PDEA agents have to follow the rule of law in conducting anti-drug operations but will engage in self-defense should the situation calls for it.”
“Ang pangyayari po kasi during operations cannot be predicted, but of course we follow the marching orders of the President, who said that the drug problem has to be stopped by all means that the law allows. The fight will be relentless, and it will be sustained,” Carreon told the Journal Group.