With the suspension of the massive police campaign against illegal drugs, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) vowed to intensify its drive against the drug menace by enlisting the help of barangays (villages).
“The 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,” PDEA Director General Isidro Lapeña said on Thursday.
He stressed that barangays are the first line of defense thus it is important for village officials to be “self-policing and self-reliant” against dangerous drugs.
“Drug syndicates thought that there will be a 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.
He added that the agency will be “lean but mean” and will take on all drug personalities, whether these are big time dealers or street level pushers.
Lapeña pushed the creation of anti-drug abuse councils nationwide.
The PDEA only has 1,791 personnel, 928 of whom are Drug Enforcement Officers or DEOs, who serve as front liners in the anti-drug campaign. They are deployed in regional offices across the country.
In light of the involvement of some policemen in the killing of Jee, who was arrested based on a fake arrest warrant, the PDEA chief warned his men against doing criminal acts.
“I will impose punishment without hesitation,” he said.
He allayed fears that the campaign against illegal drugs had hit a snag because of the deactivation of all anti-drug units of the Philippine National Police (PNP).
“The 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,” Lapeña said.
“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,” he added.
Other law enforcement agencies like the National Bureau of Investigation and the Bureau of Customs shall continue to conduct anti-drug operations, with the help of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) whose personnel will reinforce anti-drug operations in hostile territories and mountainous areas.