THE incoming chief of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) said he would eventually want the anti-drug campaign to be handled solely by PDEA although he expressed appreciation for the contribution of policemen in the fight against the social menace.
Chief Supt. Aaron Aquino of Central Luzon said this could be one way of “avoiding extrajudicial killings (EJKs)” and of curbing corruption among the ranks of the Philippine National Police (PNP).
”Hopefully, there will come a time when there will be no other unit that will handle drug operations but PDEA to avoid EJKs,” said Aquino in a radio interview on Sunday.
Aquino said that he has yet to hear of a PDEA agent involved in the killings.
Aquino also admitted that being a member of the PNP, he could see that there was a problem – a lot of policemen themselves were involved in the illegal drug trade.
Aquino’s statements came a day after senior high school student Kian de los Santos, who was killed by policemen during an anti-drug operation in Caloocan City on Aug. 16, was buried. His controversial death enraged a public that demanded justice for the teen as he became the face for all victims of EJKs.
Aquino said, however, that he fully appreciated the manpower support the PNP has been providing in the anti-drug campaign.
”What is 120,000 against only over 1,000 from PDEA,” said Aquino, adding that when he assumes his post on Sept. 12, he will be pushing for a bigger force so that the agency could better fulfil its mandate.
When asked about the support from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Aquino said this was not actually the mandate of the organization although President Rodrigo Duterte himself has enlisted its help.
Aquino said he saw his new post as “100 times more challenging”.
Aquino, a member of the Philippine Military Academy Class of 1985, will be taking over from Isidro Lapena, who will be moving to the Bureau of Customs (BOC).
Lapena will replace Nicanor Faeldon, another retired military officer, whom President Duterte replaced following the controversial shipment of P6.4 million worth of “shabu” (methamphetamine hydrochloride) into the country that slipped through the BOC.