PNP Drug Enforcement Group recruits 54 initial members, eyes 400 more

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 10 2017 01:04 PM | Updated as of Mar 10 2017 02:03 PM

New Philippine National Police (PNP) task force Drug Enforcement Group (P-DEG) chief PSr./Supt. Graciano Mijares answers questions after he was introduced by PNP Chief Dir. Gen. Ronald Dela Rosa at a press conference in Camp Crame on Monday. The new task force will resume “Oplan Double Barrel,” renamed "Oplan Double Barrel: Reloaded," after the President gave the police agency a second chance to work on the government’s war against drugs. ABS-CBN News

MANILA- The newly-formed Drug Enforcement Group (DEG) of the Philippine National Police (PNP) has recruited 54 initial members, less than a week since it was launched.

DEG director, Senior Supt. Graciano Mijares said 54 personnel have already been assigned, as he assured that the new recruits went through a strict selection process to ensure they have no record of violations.

Some of the new members of DEG came from the dissolved Anti-Illegal Drugs Group (AIDG) but will still be subjected to background investigation and periodic drug testing. The DEG will also have its own counter-intelligence unit unlike the AIDG.

Mijares is eyeing to fill up “as soon as possible” remaining slots for the group since the DEG is allowed to have 477 members nationwide.

Mijares noted that 60 cops from the provinces have already signified their intention to join the DEG. Recruitment efforts are ongoing in the provinces.

“Hopefully, in due time, we will be fully operational in the islands of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao,” he said in a press briefing in Camp Crame.

The DEG is tasked to go after high-value targets which Mijares enumerated as financiers, manufacturers, distributors, traffickers and protectors of the illegal drug trade.

PNP chief, Director General Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa has also given the DEG its own office.

Mijares said they are pursuing cases on recent drug lab raids and are revalidating information on drug suspects. He added that some of the drug protectors they are monitoring are local government officials.

The new DEG director also expressed worries over the worsening drug problem, saying drugs have become more rampant following the one-month hiatus of the drug war. Mijares said he has received information that a gram of ‘shabu’ is now sold at a cheaper price of P1,500 compared to the P5,000 per gram during the first part of their drug war.

Mijares added that he already met with personnel of the Department of Justice and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency to improve anti-drug efforts.

“There will be no overlapping… The Armed Forces of the Philippines will help us in fighting high-value targets specially yung mga areas na just like some parts of Mindanao,” he added.

The PNP relaunched its drug war Monday with the DEG as the new leading unit for operations in the hopes that the campaign will see less bloodbath.

Defense Chief Delfin Lorenzana previously said military will not mount its own anti-illegal drugs campaign and will simply aid the police force.