PDEA, AFP sign agreement to cooperate on anti-illegal drug operations
The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) signed a memorandum of agreement for its cooperation on anti-illegal drugs operation.
The agreement was signed by PDEA Director General Isidro Lape?a and AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Eduardo A?o at the AFP General Headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo on Tuesday afternoon.
In his speech, A?o said the MOA was made to “make sure that all our collaboration efforts in the battle against illegal drugs are well-synchronized and effective.”
“Today’s signing of the MOA between our institutions will surely contribute in enhancing and capacitating PDEA’s law enforcement capabilities, Moreover, we envision this undertaking as a signal of a renewed partnership between AFP and PDEA,” he said.
Lape?a said under their “renewed cooperation PDEA and AFP shall exercise administrative control over our own respective units and personnel while PDEA shall take the lead role in the national anti-drug campaign.”
He emphasized the importance of their agreement with the AFP on their effort against illegal drugs.
“The AFP shall be our force provider, most especially in conflict affected areas, wherein terror groups are prevalent,” Lape?a said.
“I am also hopeful that with this new partnership of PDEA and AFP, sharing of intelligence will result in the arrests of big time drug lords and in the suppression of supply of dangerous drugs and controlled precursors and essential chemicals,” he added.
Colonel Edgard Arevalo, AFP Public Affairs Office chief ,said the signing of the agreement is a vital step in clarifying the military’s role in the government’s anti-illegal drugs campaign.
“With this agreement, we can now push through with our new and bigger role in ending the illegal drugs scourge,” he said.
“ In line with this, the AFP will expand the Joint Counterintelligence Task Force (JCTF) NOAH, an ad hoc unit created and mandated by the AFP to to conduct drugs-related counterintelligence operations,” he added.
Arevalo said “NOAH will assist law enforcement agencies in the identification, investigation, and neutralization of persons in the use, sale, manufacture, and distribution of illegal drugs.”
While the “regional task groups under the AFP Unified Commands will also be established to coordinate direct action, intelligence, legal support, and community relations to PDEAs regional offices nationwide.”
“The AFP will only be involved in high-impact operations and arrest of high-value targets. Our forces and assets provided for each operation will not conduct ‘Tokhang’,” he said referring to the street fight against small-time drug dealers, couriers, and users of the Philippine National Police.
Arevalo noted “PDEA and NOAH will establish an Intelligence Fusion Center in apprehending big-time drug lords and suppression of supply sources and controlled precursors and essential chemicals pursuant to Sec 84 (m) of RA 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.”
“We will also extend legal support in all stages of prosecution to ensure the successful dispensation of justice,” he said.
“The AFP will also assist PDEA in counterintelligence build-up and investigation of personalities in government and influential groups linked to illegal drugs,” he added.
Arevalo also mentioned that under the MOA, “both PDEA and AFP will conduct training exchanges in intelligence and counterintelligence, drug enforcement, and preventive education and community involvement in their respective training institutions.”
“The AFP will also open its medical and emergency services for PDEA’s agents involved in legitimate anti-drugs operations,” he said.
Quoting A?o, Arevalo said the MOA will guide the military to follow the commander in chief’s directive for the AFP to help the government’s anti-illegal drugs campaign.
“The AFP remains focused on our mandate to address internal and external threats to the country. This MOA will help us draw the line in response to President Rodrigo Duterte’s order for the AFP to help in the war on drugs,” A?o said Robina Asido/DMS