DAVAO CITY - A week after President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency to take over the war on drugs, its regional office in Davao is having difficulty surpassing the anti-illegal drug operations by the Philippine National Police.
Currently, there are 70 PDEA agents deployed in 5 provinces and 1 city in Davao region compared to police operatives in every police station all throughout the region, who can simultaneously perform drug operations.
"Realities on the ground, we really need the PNP in the conduct of the illegal drug campaign. However, we will also adhere to the mandate of our president that we will be the lead agency," PDEA XI OIC Naravy Duquiatan admitted.
Duquiatan said the PDEA taking the lead in the anti-drug war does not mean the police can no longer make arrests.
"They can have warantless arrest. Pwede silang mag-conduct, example, nakita nila nag-pot session, so they can arrest. But the planned operations such as buy-bust, search warrant, they cannot conduct without the presence of the PDEA."
PDEA said the PNP still supports them in anti-illegal drug campaigns by securing and protecting PDEA agents in drug operations.
PDEA XI arrested on October 17, a surgeon, Dr. Stephen So Tay and Bicol Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Officer, Benjamin Jaraplasan Medel in a buy-bust operation in Buhangin, Davao City.
On October 19, PDEA agents killed former soldier Roel Sahiron, in an operation in Tagum City, while his alleged live-in partner Marila Shalika February was nabbed.
Duquiatan said all of the apprehended drug suspects so far were high value targets.
"We believe in the capacity of our agency to conduct operations and we don't deny the fact that we have limited number of personnel. However, we also adhere to the President's mandate to carry out anti-drug campaign in the country. We are also trying our best to do our job and accomplish our work," she said.
SHIFTING TO ANTI-CRIMINALITY, INTERNAL CLEANSING
Meanwhile, Davao City police shifted its focus to anti-criminality, saying they are focusing on crimes such as robbery, theft, and carjacking.
"Crimes, especially street crimes really decreased. If there are recorded in the crime volume, it usually happens inside the house, where police cannot control. We have strengthened our advocacy in community empowerment to educate the public on how to counter crimes committed inside residences, malls," DCPO spokesperson, Senior Inspector Ma. Teresita Gaspan said.
Gaspan added they are also intensifying internal cleansing by doing lifestyle checks and investigating policemen with alleged links to illegal drugs.