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Duterte stops PNP anti-drug ops

By ARGYLL GEDUCOS • CHITO CHAVEZ

President Duterte has ordered the Philippine National Police (PNP) and other concerned agencies to leave the conduct of all anti-illegal drug operations to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).

The memorandum signed on Oct. 10 was also directed to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), the Bureau of Customs (BoC), the Philippine Postal Office (PhilPOST), and other concerned agencies and task forces.

Duterte said the PDEA will be the lead agency in addressing the country’s drug problem.

However, the controversial “Tokhang” operations stays, according to PDEA spokesman Derrick Carreon.

“Tokhang is part of PDEA’s broader barangay drug clearing program,” Carreon said.

Under “Tokhang,” policemen knock on suspected drug trafficker or drug addicts’ home to persuade them to surrender and stop their illegal activities.

PDEA Director General Aaron Aquino said his office needs the assistance of the Philippine National Police (PNP) in performing the agency’s anti-illegal drug tasks, citing lack of personnel.

Aquino said they only have more than a thousand agents in PDEA’s roster.

The order aims to bring order to the operation and his all-out drug war, and to pinpoint precise accountability, according to Duterte.

“I hereby direct the NBI, PNP, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), 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 campaigns and operations against all those who, directly or indirectly, and in whatever manner or capacity, are involved in or connected with, illegal drugs,” Duterte said in his memo.

Under the presidential directive, all information/data received by the NBI, PNP, AFP, BOC, PhilPOST, and all other agencies or task forces are to be relayed, delivered, or brought to the attention of the PDEA for the agency’s appropriate action.

The PNP, meanwhile, is ordered to maintain police visibility as a deterrent to illegal drug activities.

Duterte stresses the role of the PDEA to safeguard the integrity of the State and the well-being of the people from the harmful effects of illegal drugs as mandated by Republic Act 9165.

The memorandum stressed the PDEA’s mandate to enforce the law and investigate the commission of the any crime relative to the use, abuse, or trafficking of any dangerous drugs.

PDEA is also mandated to arrest, apprehend, search violators, and seize the effects and proceeds of the crime, and take custody over them. Duterte said this provision of RA 9165 allows the PDEA to bear firearms.

The agency is also mandated to monitor, if warranted by circumstances, and inspect all air cargo, packages, parcels, and mails in the post office in coordination with the BoC and PhilPOST.

However, Duterte cited that RA 9165 does not mean to be a diminution of the investigative powers of the NBI and PNP on all crimes as provided for in their respective organic laws.

“The said law, however, specifically provides that ‘when the investigation being conducted by the NBI, PNP is found to be a violation of any provisions of the Act, the PDEA shall be the lead agency,” Duterte’s memorandum stated.

“The NBI, PNP, or any of the task force shall immediately transfer the same to the PDEA,” the memorandum further stated.

Over the weekend, the PDEA were able to yield illegal drugs and a list of supposed drug personalities from the house Maasim, Sarangani Mayor Aniceto Lopez Jr., leading to the surrender of the local chief executive.

“The raid by PDEA operatives of the rest house of the Maasim mayor, where R5 million worth of suspected shabu and a mini-shabu laboratory were seized, proves the Administration’s claim that illegal drugs and corruption have captured local politics,” Malacañang has noted.

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