THE Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA)-Northern Mindanao Director Adrian Alvariño is confident the anti-narcotics agency is up to the challenge after President Rodrigo Duterte ordered them to take the lead in the war on drugs.
Alvariño admitted the non-participation of police in the drug war is a big loss.
The PDEA regional chief said the agency can still tap the Philippine National Police (PNP) and other law enforcement authorities, such as the military and the National Bureau of Investigation, for intelligence and information gathering.
"Ang PNP is a major component ng anti-drug war so malaking kawalan (so it's a big loss) but we have to support the pronouncement of the President. Makakatulong sila sa atin sa pag-collect at pag-develop ng information (They can also help us in collecting and developing information) through intelligence sharing," Alvariño said.
The PDEA-Northern Mindanao top official said the police can still help and provide demand reduction initiatives and preventive intervention through information drive, symposia and other police community relations activities.
The PDEA, Alvariño said, will not adopt the police strategy of conducting "tokhang" but will instead employ their methods, however, the PNP’s Project Double Barrel of which "tokhang" is a component was beneficial as it led to profiling of drug dependents in communities.
Alvariño also said they are coordinating with DOH for assessing the level of addiction of the drug dependents.
Now that the PDEA will be taking the lead in the war on drugs, Alvariño said he is confident that the anti-narcotics agency will be able to sustain the policy direction of President Duterte.
"We are confident na kaya natin i-sustain(that we can sustain.) Sa Friday may command conference kami sa national headquarters to operationalize plans sa oplan bandila ito yung strategic direction ng PDEA sa kabuuang anti-drug campaign (We will have a command conference on Friday in the national headquarters to operationalize plans in Oplan Bandila. This is the strategic direction of PDEA in the overall anti-drug campaign)," Alvariño said.
Cagayan de Oro City Police Office (Cocpo) spokesperson Chief Inspector Mardy Hortillosa, meanwhile, said the 14 erstwhile members of the City Anti-Illegal Drug Task Force (CAIDTF) will be detailed to the different police units all over the city following the order of PNP chief Ronald Dela Rosa to disband all police anti-illegal drugs units.
"Gi-dissolve naman tong AIDG (Anti-Illegal Drugs Group), dissolve na pud ang CAIDTF kay unsa pa man ilang operationan (AIDG and CAIDTF are both dissolved because they have nothing to conduct an operation to)," Cocpo spokesperson Chief Inspector Mardy Hortillosa said.
On orders of President Rodrigo Duterte, Dela Rosa halted all anti-drugs operations of the PNP following the scandal that rocked the PNP-AIDG, whose personnel have been implicated in the abduction and killing of Korean businessman Jee Ick-joo in October last year.
The case, which brought to light the alleged "tokhang for ransom" activities of some law enforcement officers, triggered a Senate investigation.
It has also compelled the President, who had vowed to wipe out the illegal drugs problem in the country within his first six months in office, to issue a public apology to the Koreans.