THE continued proliferation of prohibited drugs, including marijuana and imported shabu, in some parts of the Philippines provides a major challenge for concerned government officials.
The situation, without doubt, is disturbing and saddening in this Third World nation of more than 100 million people, where some drug dealers and pushers enjoy protection by unscrupulous law enforcement authorities.
But two retired generals - Rey Leonardo “Jagger” Guerrero of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Aaron N. Aquino of the Philippine National Police (PNP) – have renewed their partnership to address the problem.
Guerrero, a former AFP chief and is now head of the graft-prone Bureau of Customs (BoC), and retired one-star police Gen. Aaron N. Aquino, is now chief of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).
PDEA is the law enforcement arm of the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB), whose chairman is Catalino Cuy, another retired police general.
Under the renewed partnership agreement, which was signed last Thursday, January 31, the elite Customs Anti-Illegal Drug Task Force (CAIDTF) is under the direct control and supervision of the BoC commissioner.
However, the PDEA director-general may recommend the removal/replacement of any member of the task force for just causes, and after observance of due process.
Likewise, the PDEA shall have custody of all seized and/or surrendered prohibited drugs and take the lead role in the conduct of anti-illegal drug operations and investigation.
It will be recalled that the relationship between BoC and PDEA was strained last year because of the smuggling into the country of an estimated 1,600 tons of shabu worth some P11 billion.
With Guerrero and Aquino orchestrating the drive against the entry of illegal drugs into the country, we expect those behind the drugs trade to think thrice before continuing their operations.