IN A move to ensure that no illegal drugs will enter Iloilo City through seaports, a Seaport Inter-Agency Drug Interdiction Task Group (SIADITG) in Western Visayas has been created.
Iloilo City Mayor Jose Espinosa III, along with representatives of eight agencies, signed the Memorandum of Agreement for the creation of task group on Thursday, February 7.
The SIADITG-Western Visayas Operations Center will be established at the Iloilo International Port in Barangay Loboc, Lapuz, Iloilo City which will serve as administrative and operations hub of the task group.
The SIADITG is composed of eight agencies in Western Visayas namely the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), Bureau of Customs, Coast Guard District, Philippine National Police (PNP)-Regional Maritime Unit 6, Maritime Industry Authority, Philippine Ports Authority, National Intelligence Coordination Agency, and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources.
“As Mayor of Iloilo City, we are thankful for the creation of this task group because we will now have a new group that will prevent illegal drugs from entering our region and our city,” Espinosa said.
He added the move is also in support to the call of President Rodrigo Duterte to stop illegal drugs.
“Iloilo City has been doing so many efforts to curb illegal drugs and also to stop criminality and corruption which the President has also mandated,” Espinosa said.
PDEA-Western Visayas officer-in-charge Alex Tablate said the concerned agencies will specifically focus in guarding the seaports and coastal areas that may be entry points of trafficking or smuggling of illegal drugs.
“Prior to this, the PDEA has already informally tapped agencies like the Coast Guard and PNP, however, with this formal creation of task group, it is resources and personnel-wise because each member agency has their own personnel in-charge in this tasking,” Tablate said.
They will continuously consult with each other by way of periodic meetings and dialogues with the end view of improving the cooperative mechanism to integrate and harmonize efforts to combat smuggling of dangerous drug precursors, and essential chemicals within their respective areas of responsibility at all ports within Western Visayas including private ports.
They will also develop strategy to deter and prevent the entry of syndicates or recruiters and suspicious personalities and parcel or cargoes; and conduct joint anti-drug operations against illegal drug personalities, organizations and activities as may deem necessary, among others. (PR)