DOT partners with PDEA, police to beef up tourism security

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 30 2022 04:07 PM

PNP chief Gen. Dionardo Carlos (left), PDEA director general Wilkins Villanueva (center), and tourism undersecretary Woodrow Maquiling Jr. (right) sign a memorandum of agreement beefing up security in tourism destinations nationwide on March 14, 2022. DOT handout
PNP chief Gen. Dionardo Carlos (left), PDEA director general Wilkins Villanueva (center), and tourism undersecretary Woodrow Maquiling Jr. (right) sign a memorandum of agreement beefing up security in tourism destinations nationwide on March 14, 2022. DOT handout

MANILA — The Department of Tourism (DOT) has inked a partnership with authorities to beef up security in tourist destinations nationwide, as the country expects more tourist arrivals due to looser COVID-19 restrictions.

In a statement Wednesday, DOT said it signed an agreement with the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to launch a new program called Tourism Operation Protection Against Illegal Drugs (TOP-AID).

Under the said program, the tourism security force will assist in maintaining peace and order in areas where there are huge volumes of tourists.

TOP-AID is a follow-up initiative to the TOPCOP program launched in 2011, the DOT said.

Ten years since TOPCOP was launched, more than 5,000 tourist police have been trained and 365 tourist police assistance centers were set up across the country, the department added.

“We welcome this latest collaboration with our country’s police force and drug enforcement agency in an aim to provide greater deterrence and protection against the illicit trafficking of dangerous drugs in tourist destinations,” said tourism secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat.

The agreement launching TOP-AID was signed on March 14 by DOT Undersecretary Woodrow Maquiling Jr., PDEA Director General Wilkins Villanueva, and PNP Chief Gen. Dionardo Carlos.

DOT added in its statement that PDEA has also agreed to deploy some of its personnel to TOP-AID centers in certain tourist destinations. 

The PDEA-manned tourist assistance and complaint desks will focus on drug-related concerns, the tourism department said.

As of March 9, there have been 76,736 arrivals to the Philippines since COVID-19 restrictions were eased, DOT data showed.

Of the number, 43,249 are foreign tourists, while 33,487 are returning Filipinos.

Starting April 1, the Philippines will be fully opening its borders to international passengers entering the country by easing travel requirements.

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- With reports from Raffy Cabristante, ABS-CBN News