PDEA opposes proposed bill dissolving agency

Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 26 2019 12:15 PM

MANILA - The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) on Thursday told the Senate it opposes a bill seeking to dissolve the agency, saying it will hurt government’s efforts in the war on drugs.

Sen. Vicente Sotto III’s proposed bill which seeks to create the Presidential Drug Enforcement Authority “would cause more harm rather than solution to the current war on drugs of the government,” PDEA Deputy Director Gregorio Pimentel told a Senate hearing.

“The government’s anti-drug programs are already in place. PDEA’s abolition will certainly displace these strategies - supply reduction, demand reduction and harm reduction,” Pimentel said.

“The creation of the Presidential Drug Enforcement Authority in lieu of PDEA and DDB (Dangerous Drugs Board) does not give any assurance that the war on drugs will greatly improve. It may steal the progress already gained in the anti-illegal drug campaign.”

Pimentel argued that the supervisory role that shall be given to PRDEA will overlap with that of other law enforcement agencies.

“The proposed structure of the PRDEA will create discord rather than unify the concerned departments or agencies of government,” he added.

Under Sotto’s bill, the PRDEA shall “primarily be the supervising agency for the proper, more effective and efficient implementation” of the country’s anti-drug law.

The proposed agency shall “likewise absorb the policy-making and strategy-formulating functions of the current Dangerous Drugs Board.”

With the PDEA dissolved under the proposed measure, its existing powers shall be exercised by the Philippine National Police.

Displaced PDEA and DDB personnel shall “have the option of either being integrated into the PRDEA or to transfer to other concerned government agencies.”

DDB Undersecetary Benjamin Reyes said he also opposes Sotto’s bill.

“Although our position is not as strongly worded as PDEA, maybe sustaining the status quo would be more prudent,” Reyes said.

Sen. Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa, chair of the Senate public order committee hearing the proposed law, said Sotto could only be aiming to have a “whole of government” approach in solving the drug scourge when he crafted the bill.

Police said 5,526 drug suspects have been killed in the government's anti-drug campaign from July 1, 2016 until June 30.

The government however routinely dismisses any criticism of the drug war, saying there is a presumption of regularity in all police operations.