By Chito Chavez
All negative—that’s the result of the latest surprise drug test conducted on 516 key officers and organic personnel of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).
The drug tests on urine samples taken from PDEA key officials, administrative/technical personnel, and drug enforcement officers were administered by the PDEA Laboratory Service right after the regular Monday flag-raising ceremony on January 8.
“Surprise mandatory drug testing is an effective way of catching off-guard drug users among our ranks. The test was administered during the first full working week of the year. We are trying to make a point early on that we have the moral ascendancy to lead as prime implementers of the anti-drug law and that we are drug-free,” PDEA Director General Aaron Aquino said.
More surprise drug tests will be conducted in the agency in the future to ensure that not a single PDEA personnel is involved in the illegal drug trade, he added.
The PDEA will further intensify efforts to cleanse its ranks and weed out the scalawags in the office in the face of integrity and credibility issues.
Aquino vowed that the fight against illegal drugs will be relentless, sustained, and will have a different approach in 2018 after issuing 13 operational thrusts.
“The operational thrusts are in keeping with President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s goals in the war against drugs,” Aquino said, citing the President’s declaration: “we will not stop until the last drug lord, the last financier, and the last pusher have surrendered or put behind bars.”
Aquino said PDEA will integrate efforts to launch and implement reformation programs, trainings, drug education, and strengthened partnerships with other government agencies and stakeholders to achieve its goals for 2018.
Among the operational thrusts are: The signing of a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) to deputize PDEA to inspect maritime vessels both domestic and international, and inspect public and private ports nationwide; and the establishment of PDEA offices in the Philippine Ports Authority’s 13 key seaports nationwide.
A MOA has been recently signed among PDEA, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board, and Transportation Network Vehicles Services (TNVS) to create policies preventing the use of TNVS as drug couriers.
The signing of an MOA with the Philippine Air Force, Philippine Navy, Philippine Coast Guard, and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources for joint anti-illegal drugs operation in Philippine high seas and stop shipside smuggling remains as another PDEA objective.
The agency also plans to strengthen its Financial Investigation Unit by providing additional manpower and intensified training to be able to freeze the assets of known drug lords and eradicate corruption in other government agencies.
The procurement of 100 Narcotics Detection Dogs (NDDs) to be deployed in the country’s major seaports and airports, and the rehabilitation and improvement of PDEA K9 Kennel Facility in San Jose del Monte Bulacan are also listed among the 13 operational thrusts of the PDEA this year.