By Genalyn Kabiling
Faced with the drug problem that has become a national security threat, President Duterte has ordered all government entities, including government corporations and state universities and colleges, to “take an active role” in the campaign against illegal drugs.
Memorandum Circular No. 53 on mobilizing government resources on drug prevention and control was signed by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea by authority of the President last November 12.
“The drug problem continues to degrade the moral fiber of society, undermining the rule of law and has evolved as a national security problem,” the circular read.
“It is hereby DIRECTED that all government offices, agencies and instrumentalities, including GOCCs (government owned and controlled corporations) and SUCs, to immediately mobilize their assets and take an active role in the government’s anti-illegal drugs campaign in accordance with their respective mandates,” it added.
The latest memorandum noted that the State has a policy to pursue an effective campaign against illegal drugs “through an integrated system of planning, implementation and enforcement of anti-illegal drug abuse policies, programs and projects.”
The President recently issued Executive Order No. 66 that institutionalized the Philippine Anti-Illegal Drugs Strategy (PADS) amid the proliferation of illegal drugs in the country.
Under EO 66, government agencies were directed to implement the national strategy on drug prevention and control that includes the implementation of a “drug-free workplace programs” and “authorized drug testing.”
“The proliferation of prohibited drugs and their precursors is a serious national concern, encompassing social, economic, psychological and economic interests, which necessitates the active and unified involvement of various government and non-government agencies,” the order read.
A separate EO No. 15 issued last year created the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD) and the National Anti-Illegal Drug Task Force to suppress the drug problem in the country. The task force has been empowered to undertake anti-illegal drug operations.
At the Bureau of Customs, all importations of chemicals have been placed on alert status and subjected to physical examination to prevent the entry of controlled precursors and essential chemicals used in the manufacture of dangerous drugs into the country.
Under Customs Memorandum Circular 228-2018 signed by Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero on Nov. 9, 2018, all imported chemicals shall undergo non-intrusive inspection– a 100-percent physical examination conducted on alerted cargoes tagged as “suspect.”
Chemicals placed under alert status are those “in diluted, mixture or in concentrated form, as well as packaging, repacking, labeling, relabeling or concealment of such chemicals were done through fraud, destruction of documents, fraudulent use of permits, misdeclaration, use of front companies or mail fraud.”
This, according to Guerrero, has been requested by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) following a Cabinet Meeting held on November 6, where the President directed the entire government “to mobilize their assets and take active role in the government’s anti-illegal drug campaign nationwide.”
Importation of chemicals by multinational and other companies with permits from the Philippine National Police (PNP) and PDEA, however, are exempted from being alerted and subjected to non-intrusive inspection, the Customs bureau said. (Betheena Kae Unite)