The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency-Negros Island Region briefed members of the Dumaguete clergy, headed by Bishop Julito Cortes, on the current drug situation in the country and limitations encountered in the region.
PDEA-NIR director Roselyn Borja, during a presentation and a question and answer portion afterwards, pointed out that the illegal drugs war in the Philippines cannot be fought by one agency alone.
The PDEA is mandated by law to lead the government's campaign against illegal drugs but due to lack of personnel, the Philippine National Police and in some cases, the military are tapped to help them carry out their mission, she said.
Borja said that unfortunately, there are only 2,271 plantilla positions in the PDEA in the Philippines, with 1,274 as drug enforcers.
And in the Negros Island Region, which comprises both provinces of Negros Oriental and Negros Occidental, there are only 40 PDEA organic personnel, she added.
Given the agency's limited budget of P1.8 billion under the General Appropriations Act of 2017, she said they concentrate on the arrests of high value targets and the carrying out of high impact operations.
Of the total, 40 percent goes to salaries and allowances, 26 percent for Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses, and 32 percent for capital outlay or for the procurement of firearms and ammunition, she said.
And only a small portion is allotted for anti-drug operations and reward money under Oplan Private Eye, she added.
She said that 100 percent of the barangays in Negros Oriental are drug-affected, based on the report from the PNP.
She explained the mere presence of even one drug pusher in the barangay would categorize that barangay as “drug-affected”.
Her disclosure, however, runs counter to recent pronouncements by the local PNP that some barangays have already been declared as drug-free.
Borja appealed to the clergy for their help in fighting the illegal drugs war, saying that PDEA or other government agencies cannot do it alone.
When asked by Cortes how the diocese can help, she replied that this can be done through information campaigns, under the demand reduction and civic awareness and response pillars, two of five pillars in the war against drugs.
Cortes asked Borja about specific details of the drug situation in the province, however, she said that while she had available information, she did not bring it with her.
Borja also underscored the role of the Barangay Anti-Drug Abuse Councils, saying that these should be strengthened to help curb the illegal drug menace in the country.*JFP
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