THE Provincial Peace and Order Council (PPOC) of Negros Oriental is hoping the Philippine National Police (PNP) will be back in the lead in the war against illegal drugs, noting a remarkably low output of the provincial Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).
The PPOC held its regular monthly meeting Tuesday, November 21, wherein many members expressed hope that the PNP would once again take over the campaign against illegal drugs, said Senior Superintendent Edwin Portento, acting provincial police director.
According to Portento, the PDEA reported a total of six anti-illegal drugs operations for the entire month of October and part of November.
Of the number, four were conducted jointly with the PNP, while only two were solely PDEA operations, he said.
The low output is attributed to the lack of PDEA manpower in Negros Oriental, with only six personnel, to include their provincial chief, Agent Jason Cabataña.
The decline in the number of anti-illegal drugs operations in the province started sometime in early October after President Rodrigo Duterte announced he was giving the PDEA the authority to lead in the drugs war, Portento said.
During the PPOC meeting, the PDEA asked when the PNP would resume taking the lead role in the illegal drugs campaign in the province, but Portento said they had not yet received any word rom the PNP higher headquarters.
Until such time that Duterte will say so, PNP will just be playing a support role to the PDEA, he said.
Duterte announced a few days back that he would return the anti-illegal drugs leadership to the PNP if the problem gets worse.
In the meantime, the PNP in Negros Oriental is conducting its own demand-reduction activities, such as community engagement and dialogues, to increase public awareness on the illegal drugs problem, Portento said.
He said they are doing an informal survey on what the community and the PPOC members want in relation to the drugs problem.
“We’re making our own evaluation at the moment,” Portento said.
He added that OIC Governor Mark Macias has expressed sadness over the measly output of the PDEA and was looking at how the PPOC and the province could help the agency.
However, the yearend is drawing near and so it would be difficult to release some financial assistance to the PDEA in Dumaguete, he added. (PNA)