PNP to create permanent anti-illegal drugs unit

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Thursday, August 28, 2014

THE Philippine National Police (PNP) will create a permanent unit who will handle illegal-drugs related cases in support to the operations of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), following the approval of the Department of Justice (DOJ), a police official said.

PNP Anti-Illegal Drugs Special Operations Task Force (AIDSOTF) chief Roque Merdeguia said Justice Secretary Leila de Lima responded to a proposal sent by the PNP four years ago, saying she sees no legal hindrance if ever a PNP Narcotics Investigation and Monitoring Center (NIMC) will be created.

"Upon closer review of law and jurisprudence, we find nothing in RA (Republic Act) 9165 that prohibits the PNP from setting up a permanent Narcotics Investigation and Monitoring Center so long as it complies with the provisions of RA 9165 on the relationship of this PNP unit to the PDEA," de Lima said in her letter.


In 2009, former Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez ordered the abolishment of anti-illegal drugs unit in the PNP, National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and Bureau of Customs citing that it may contradict the provision under RA 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drug Act of 2002, which implies that Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) will be the sole government agency tasked to combat illegal drug activities in the country.

It however allowed the PNP, NBI and Bureau of Customs to create a task force in support to the PDEA but only until such time that it is fully operational and able to recruit a sufficient number of personnel to do the mandated task themselves which resulted in the creation of the PNP-AIDSOTF.

De Lima said creating of such permanent anti-illegal drugs unit under the PNP will be of help to the PDEA and is "in fact mandated in their law which is to establish and maintain a national drug intelligence system in cooperation with the law enforcement agencies that will assist in its apprehension of big-time drug lords and necessarily, all criminal elements engaged in the illegal drugs business in the country."

However, she said the PNP-NIMC will be reactivated in a condition that it should always maintain close coordination with the PDEA since it will still, above all, be the lead agency in the battle against illegal drugs.

"Good news ito para sa ating mga kapulisan lalo na ang mga miyembro ng PNP-AIDSOTF hindi lang para mas maging epektibo at credible sa paglaban against illegal-drugs related cases but also para sa ating mga tauhan dahil kapag nagging unit na kami magkakaroon na ng career advancement para sa amin," Merdeguia said.

He said being a part of the PNP-AIDSOTF they are not entitled to any promotion unless they will transfer to another unit of the national police agency.

Turning the AIDSOTF in to a unit will also pre-empt the PNP to propose a budget for the anti-illegal drug operations, which will result in conducting more anti-illegal drugs operations, the official said.

"Sa ngayon kasi sa opisina ni Chief PNP nanggagaling ang aming budget, hindi naman ganoon kalaki 'yun kaya isa din 'yun sa challenge sa amin dito sa aming laban against illegal drugs," Merdeguia said.

The AIDSOTF chief said currently, aside from conducting buy-bust operation with the PDEA, several of his men also conduct symposiums and seminars to inform and educate the public with the hazardous effect of illegal-drugs in the human body, community and in the environment.

The PNP-AIDSOTF is now composed of more than a hundred members.

"In the pursuant of turning this task force into a unit, we will propose the augmentation of our people may be around 1,700 to 2,000 personnel," the AIDSOTF chief said.

He said they are also studying the possibility of changing the units name to "PNP Anti-illegal drugs Group" following the name of other PNP units such as the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group and Highway Patrol Group. (Sunnex)

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