PDEA vows 'less bloody' war on drugs

Third Anne Peralta-Malonzo

PHILIPPINE Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Director General Aaron Aquino assured Thursday that the government's drug war will be less bloody.

In a memorandum dated October 10, President Duterte assigned the PDEA as the "sole agency" in charge of the anti-illegal drugs operations.

Aquino said he instructed his men to abide by the law as they conduct anti-illegal drugs operations.

He even invited the media to join them in all their operations.

"I'm asking all the media to join me in all my operations, you're all welcome and lahat ng operations ko isama natin ang media, may body cams kami and everything," Aquino said.

Aquino, who took office in September after his retirement from the Philippine National Police (PNP), said that since July 1, 2016, only 28 drug personalities were killed by PDEA operatives during operations.

"Sila po yung nakalaban namin and I can assure the public that this 28 are legitimate operations," he said.

[They were the ones who the PDEA had firefight with and I can assure the public that this 28 are legitimate operations.]

However, Aquino said they will still need the assistance of the PNP in implementing the government's war on drugs noting that the agency only has at least a thousand operatives.

He said the PDEA will lead the operations but members of other law enforcement agencies will be included.

Aquino said considering their limited manpower, the PDEA will focus on "high impact operations" which includes identification and dismantling of shabu laboratories, chemical storage places, marijuana plantations, drug dens, and shabu tiangges.

"Alam ko mahihirapan kami, there will be a lot of obstacles and challenges along the way but I can assure the public na kakayanin namin itong trabaho na 'to, napakahirap dahil nga considering ang aming manpower ay dalawang libo lang kami and this is the number of personnel already operating in the region," Aquino said.

[I know it will be hard for us. There will be a lot of obstacles and challenges along the way but I can assure the public that we can do this job. It's a challenge considering our manpower which is around 2,000 that already includes those operating in the regions.]

Meanwhile, PDEA spokesperson Derrick Carreon said although they are bound to follow the rule of law, they will not hinder their men to do self-defense especially if the situation calls for it.

He said they will as much as possible try to avoid armed confrontation with the suspects.

"Ang pangyayari po kasi during operations cannot be predicted, but of course we follow the marching orders of the President, who said that the drug problem has to be stopped by all means that the law allows. The fight will be relentless, and it will be sustained," he said.

[We cannot predict what will happen during operations but of course, we follow the marching orders of the President, who said that the drug problem has to be stopped by all means that the law allows. The fight will be relentless, and it will be sustained.]

"But if and when the situation calls for it, our agents, just like our counterparts from the police, and other law enforcement agencies, kailangan po naming ipagtanggol ang aming mga sarili, ang aming mga kasamahan at lalong lalo na po yung mga tao na nasa paligid namin habang kami'y nagsasagawa ng operations," he added.

[But if and when the situation calls for it, our agents, just like our counterparts from the police, and other law enforcement agencies, we need to defend ourselves, our men and the people around us while we are conducting operations.] (SunStar Philippines)