THE Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency in Northern Mindanao (PDEA-X) has warned the public against individuals and groups that are using the name of the anti-drug agency to soliciting funds as "protection money."

PDEA-X Regional Director Gilberto Abanto Jr., also disclosed the proliferation of identification cards (IDs) bearing the name of the agency, which he said are used by "crooks" to bilk their victims.

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PDEA-X has never issued IDs or documents to any individual or group for the purpose of soliciting money, Director Abanto said, adding that individuals caught for unauthorized possession of the agency's ID cards are liable under the law.

Specifically, he said the act of carrying fake PDEA IDs is punishable under the Dangerous Drugs Board's Resolution No. 34, the governing rule for accredited organizations involved in drug abuse prevention programs.

Under the rule, even accredited PDEA groups are not allowed to solicit funds.,

"Accreditation is not an authorization to solicit funds," added Abanto in a press statement issued to this paper Thursday.

PDEA-X said the public may report violators through the following hotline numbers: 09088924770, 09228949115 and (088) 857-2279. (ALR)