CEBU

Nalzaro: On the proposed abolition of PDEA

Saksi

IF IT ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Leave something alone; avoid attempting to correct or just improve what is already sufficient.

If Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III has his way, he will abolish or dissolve the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and create the Presidential Drug Enforcement Authority (PRDEA) to strengthen the government’s current war on illegal drugs. Under Sotto’s proposed bill, the PRDEA shall “primarily be the serving agency for the proper, more effective and efficient implementation of the country’s anti-drug war.” The proposed agency shall likewise absorb the policy-making body and the strategy-formulating functions of the current Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB).

With the PDEA dissolved, under the proposed measure, its existing powers shall be exercised by the Philippine National Police (PNP). Meaning, the PNP will now be the lead agency in combating illegal drugs. Displaced PDEA and DDB personnel shall “have the option of either being integrated into the PRDEA or to transfer to other concerned government agencies.”

Under Sotto’s bill, the PRDEA’s third priority will be the supervising agency for the implementation of Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002. It would have five anti-drug bureaus on enforcement, prosecution, prevention, rehabilitation and policy formulation. If passed, the PDEA operatives can just join the military or the police that will be forming their own narcotics team.

I don’t know what is in the mind of Senator Sotto? Maybe he can no longer think of more important and significant laws that can benefit the majority of the Filipinos. That is why he came up with a nonsense legislation to abolish or dissolve an already established institution and then come up with another one which has basically the same setup and functions? It is the same dog, but with a different collar, so to speak. Literally, a situation that is repeated with just a slight variation.

I think Sotto was one of those who voted for RA 9165, which created the PDEA in 2002. When his term as senator expired, he was appointed as chairman of the DDB. Patterned after the United States of America’s Drugs Enforcement Unit (DEU), PDEA was created as lead agency in a war against dangerous drugs that would be composed of well-trained and well-equipped personnel from the PDEA academy.

Kung sa mahjong pa ni, nganong gub-on man ni Tito ang kamada? What’s wrong with the PDEA? Is the unit ineffective and inutile against the campaign on illegal drugs? Because the institution and its personnel are corrupt? By changing its name and setup, can Sotto assure that it would be more effective? I doubt. With the dissolution of PDEA, the anti-drug campaign will be tasked again to the police? We have been there and the police was not effective. That is why we created PDEA. Now, back again to the police? Mosamot kadaghan ang “ninja cops.”

The PRDEA will have its own prosecution arm, rehabilitation and prevention. What should the prosecution’s job entail then? We have so many fiscals under the Department of Justice. Can Sotto assure that under PRDEA, the prosecutors assigned there are all honest? At present, the PDEA is also doing rehabilitation and prevention campaign. If the problems of PDEA are inefficiency and prevalent corruption within the agency, why change the entire system? All they have to do is to strengthen it with the full support of the government instead of dissolving it. The government’s anti-drug programs are already in place. Just because the house is infested with mosquitos, we will burn the entire house? Not a wise idea. We might as well abolish the police because it failed to curb criminality and the military as it also failed in its anti-insurgency campaign.


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