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No need to involve PNP in drug war for now – Gatchalian

VALENZUELA CITY, Philippines – The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) destroys confiscated chemicals and equipment used in producing illegal drugs, as shown in this January 2011 file photo. Senator Win Gatchalian has applauded the agency’s actions, arresting drug personalities and seizing drugs at record pace with almost zero loss of life. Photo by Mark Cayabyab/OS WIN GATCHALIAN

Senator Win Gatchalian sees no immediate need to involve the Philippine National Police once more in the Duterte administration’s campaign against illegal drugs, citing the record-breaking performance of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) during its first month at the helm of the drug war.

The senator’s comments came after President Rodrigo Duterte had brought up the possibility of re-authorizing the PNP to conduct anti-illegal drug operations.

“PDEA’s performance as the sole agency in-charge of the government’s campaign against illegal drugs has been nothing short of spectacular. We should give PDEA more time to fulfill this mandate on its own,” said Gatchalian on Monday.

PDEA reported a record high of 1,341 anti-illegal drug operations for the period October 10 to November 10, resulting in the arrest of 404 drug personalities and the seizure of almost P54 million worth of banned substances. Meanwhile, there were only two reported casualties during these operations: one PDEA agent and one drug suspect.

“PDEA operatives have been arresting drug personalities and seizing drugs at record pace with almost zero loss of life as a result. In essence, PDEA has instituted the reforms needed to restore public confidence in the integrity of the government’s war on drugs. They deserve the continuing confidence of the President as the undisputed leader of the national crusade against drugs,” Gatchalian said.

To further enhance the government’s anti-drug efforts the senator said the government should work to double the manpower complement of PDEA, which has less than 2,000 drug enforcement officers (DEOs). He also said the anti-drug agency should continue to train its sights primarily on high-level drug personalities.

“Targeting high-level drug dealers will result in high-impact operations which will cut the supply of illegal drugs straight at the source,” Gatchalian said.

Meanwhile, the senator said the national police force could still make significant contributions to the improvement of the country’s peace and order situation: “Illegal drugs is only one of many public order problems which require the attention of law enforcement authorities. The PNP should take this opportunity to make our streets safer by flexing its muscles against other forms of crime.”