THE Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) reported that from October to November 10, it conducted 1,341 anti-drug operations which led to 404 arrests and the seizure of R53.83 million worth of illegal drugs.
The number of operations was 80.5 percent more than in the previous month, PDEA Director General Aaron Aquino reported. There were 14.4 percent more arrests. And the value of drugs seized was 233.3 percent more.
In the news some weeks ago was the arrest of a detained drug queen and her daughter who were found to be continuing their operations despite their detention at the Correctional Institution for Women in Mandaluyong City. The other cases included the arrest of a major shabu pusher in Taguig City, the arrest of seven with shabu, ecstasy, cocaine, and marijuana also in Mandaluyong and in Quezon City, and the arrest of two Nigerians in Kawit, Cavite.
President Duterte assigned the PDEA to take over the lead in the country’s anti-drug operations from the Philippine National Police (PNP) after a series of killings of minors by police operatives. There was also an earlier case of a South Korean business executive who was arrested in Angeles City in Pampanga, brought to Camp Crame in QC, then inexplicably killed right inside the camp by rogue cops demanding ransom from his family.
“We may be undermanned, underequipped, and underfunded, but we continually strive to achieve more than what is expected,” PDEA Director General Aquino said.
On the same day that the PDEA issued its report on its anti-drug operations, PNP chief Director General Ronald de la Rosa expressed the hope that the PNP would be returned to its lead role in the operations.
He admitted that the PNP had failed to rid itself of “scalawags” in its ranks, whom he blamed for the many incidents of killings in the anti-drug operations. He said there were “narcocops” who were protectors or into the drug trade itself.
But the PNP has been cleaning its ranks, he said. He urged the return of the PNP to the lead in the anti-drugs campaign. “We are ready,” he said. “We are always ready.”
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon’s immediate reaction was opposition to the PNP chief’s call. First, he said, the law clearly provides that the fight against drugs is in the hands of the PDEA. Then there have been 6,000 to 7,000 deaths in the anti-drugs war when it was led by the PNP. The death of even minors like Kian de los Santos, who allegedly resisted arrest when CCTV cameras showed him already in secure police custody, moved President Duterte to assign the PDEA to lead the anti-drugs drive, with the PNP the National Bureau of Investigation, and other agencies in support.
The recent PDEA report shows that the campaign is continuing, but without the controversies that marred the campaign when it was being led by the PNP. The PNP should be allowed more time to carry on its self-cleaning operations before returning to a more active role in the campaign.