Following a meeting with top officials of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, the Dangerous Drugs Board, and the Philippine National Police, the Department of Education stood its ground in limiting the random drug testing to secondary and tertiary level students, as mandated by the law.
“Nag-agree kami na kanya-kanya kami ng trabaho—sa amin ang preventive, sa kanila ang enforcement. We have to respect what each of us are doing because we have the same goal, which is to fight illegal drugs,” Secretary Leonor Magtolis Briones said.
The three agencies showed DepEd their data on the dramatic increase in the number of children who are involved in prohibited substances and their proposed plan of action.
Reiterating that the DepEd’s mandate from the President is to enhance the curriculum on drug education for learners nine years old and above, the four agencies agreed to provide each other advice, share information, and meet regularly to solve the menace of illegal drugs.
“The important thing is, I think, all of us realize that the drug problem is not only a police problem, or an education problem, it’s a problem of society. And this can only be minimized if society also changes; We are engaged in the same battle, we are using different methodologies and we are focusing on different clientele,” Briones said.
Meanwhile, authorities said on Wednesday that 500 government workers have been arrested in anti-drug operations from July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2018.
PNP spokesman Senior Supt. Benigno Durana Jr. said the number includes 53 uniformed personnel, 245 civilian employees and 229 elected officials.
As of June 30, seized shabu from smuggling totaled 714.92 kilos while 318.39 kilos are manufactured locally.
The entry points of illegal drugs remain to be coastlines, airports, seaports and were primarily sent via mail and parcel.
In a related development, the PDEA and Maritime Industry Authority have partnered to prevent the shipment, delivery and transportation of illegal drugs, and controlled precursors and essential chemicals using marine vessels.
Director General Aaron Aquino and Marina Administrator Rey Leonardo Guerrero on Wednesday inked a memorandum of agreement, “the first of its kind between PDEA and Marina” at the PDEA national headquarter.
“Under the agreement, the two parties are to ensure to the best of their abilities, that no marine vessels, whether private or commercial, entering the country are used or utilized to smuggle dangerous drugs and controlled precursors and essential chemicals and identify and report timely intelligence information for the purpose of anti-drug operations,” Aquino said.
Under the agreement, PDEA shall design, plan and conduct, in coordination with Marina, a joint anti-drug operation.
On the other hand, PDEA shall take the lead role in the overall investigation, arrest and subsequent filing of drug cases, and provide and conduct trainings and seminars for Marina’s personnel on matters relevant to the implementation of Republic Act 9165, or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.
Marina pledged to deputize PDEA agents to conduct inspection to private and commercial marine vessels in the enforcement of the anti-drug law, alert PDEA when marine vessels turn off its automatic identification system, provide subject matter experts in the training of PDEA personnel, and allow the use of any of its equipment or facilities to identify drug-related activities.
“Intelligence reports indicated that drug trafficking organizations can ship tons of methamphetamine hychloride, or shabu, and its chemical ingredients into the country either through shipside smuggling in the high seas and seaports,” Aquino noted.
To curb drug smuggling through the ports and high seas, PDEA has established seaport interdiction units assigned in 13 key seaports nationwide, and has recently entered into agreements with the Philippine Ports Authority, Philippine Coast Guard and Marina which empowered the inspection of all maritime transportation in 1,200 private seaports.