The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) recently admitted they have limited manpower capability and budgetary allocation to address the drug problem in Palawan and is seeking the help of local government units to effectively perform their task.
PDEA Director General Aaron Aquino said in a recent press conference that while the Senate has approved a budget increase for the agency this coming year, amounting to P2.8 billion, they continue to be saddled with a limited manpower and resources.
“We just have seven personnel and two K9 dogs here in Palawan and there are 23 municipalities, I believe,” Aquino said.
He said that in order to effectively address the drug problem they need to hire around 1,500 agents a year over the next five years, noting that the agency has only 1,100 are drug enforcement agents.
He added that they also have 15 regional centers but are still seeking funds to organize offices in all the nation’s provinces.
Ramos noted that for the whole of Palawan, they only have one office in Puerto Princesa City located in a small office space inside the Western Command facility.
He appealed to the local executive for assistance in providing them office space and vehicles.
“Makikipag-kita ako sa kanila para sana matulungan nila kami – for equipment, sasakyan, o magkaroon ng sariling office dito,” Ramos said.
This P2.8B approved budget is bigger compared to the more or less P1B annual budget recommended by the past administrations.
PDEA Agent Christopher Torres, PDEA Palawan Provincial Officer, said they are expecting to fill-up local positions by the first quarter of next year, by tapping among new recruits who are expected to complete their training at their national headquarters in Silang, Cavite.
Aquino added however that even with limited capacity, they were able to confiscate drugs amounting to P53 million in 1,343 operations within a month after PDEA was designated by President Rodrigo Duterte to take over the illegal drugs campaign as the lead agency.
“We had 1,343 successful operations in one month confiscating drugs which are equivalent to P53M pesos. That is after President Duterte ordered us to be the sole agency for all drug operations,” Aquino said.
He also said that the recent presidential order making the Philippine National Police (PNP) as the new lead agency on all drug operations were requested by PDEA.
“We need PNP because we are undermanned. We have an estimated 190,000 police force compared to 1,100 PDEA agents in the whole country,” Aquino said.