PDEA reveals death toll since taking over drug war

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 3) — The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency has significantly fewer deaths in their anti-illegal drug operations as compared to the police.

PDEA Public Informations Office chief Derrick Carreon on Friday revealed to CNN Philippines' Newsroom Ngayon that since July 1, 2016, there have been only 29 deaths in its anti-drug operations.

"Pinaka-latest October 18 sa Davao Del Norte. Isang ex-army nanlaban. And meron naman pong document yan dahil yung tropa natin nakasuot ng body cameras at may open invitation si Director General Aaron Aquino for all media to join us," Carreon said.

[Translation: The latest death is on October 18 in Davao Del Norte, an ex-army who fought back. We documented that because our trooper wore body cameras and Director General Aaron Aquino had an open invitation for all media to join us.]

In a memorandum signed on October 11, the President ordered PDEA to take the lead in all operations previously handled by the Philippine National Police.

Carreon also said taking over the drug war, PDEA has conducted 704 anti-drug operations, which led to the arrest of 230 drug personalities, 16 percent of whom are considered high-value targets, and 38 turnovers from other arrests made by barangays officials.

He added they have also recovered 1.8 kilos of shabu and 10.7 kilos of marijuana with a total worth of ?25.9 million.

In comparison, according to PNP data, police have conducted 76,863 anti-drug operations from July 1, 2016 to September 26, 2017, which resulted in the death of 3,906 drug personalities and the arrest of 113,932.

It added that as of July 25, 2017, the police have facilitated over 1.3 million surrenders.

The operations, however, also caused the death of 85 law enforcers, while 225 were injured.

The Duterte administration's war on drugs, the PNP said, has led to the seizure of drugs, chemicals, and lab equipment worth almost ?19 billion, including about ?13 billion worth of shabu.

The turnover, however, led to some logistical problems for PDEA.

Carreon said out of the 1,898 PDEA personnel, less than 1,100 are actual agents spread nationwide. In contrast, the PNP has about 195,000 personnel.

"All operating units from north to south, including National Capital Region na nandyan ang concentration ng drug problem. So you can more or less picture kung gano kahirap dahil mas konti ho kami talaga," Carreon said.

PDEA is planning to recruit 1,000 to 1,500 agents every year to fill in the gap. This will mean the need for additional budget as training will cost P200,000 per agent or P300 million for 1,500 agents.

The agency's 2018 budget is at P1.4 billion, plus P934.52 million for additional facilities, equipment, and manpower.

Carreon added they are encouraging ordinary citizens to report drug-related information through their 24/7 hotline.

"It's a reward system designed na hikayatin ang mga kababayan natin na magreport ng mga malalaking accomplishments pertaining to shabu laboratories, imbakan ng kemikal, imbakan ng shabu," Carreon said.

[Translation: It's a reward system designed to encourage our fellow citizens to report big accomplishments pertaining to shabu and chemical laboratories, and shabu storage units.]