Senate minority leader Alan Peter Cayetano chastised the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) on its inability not only to reduce the prevalence of illegal drugs in the streets in the country, particularly in Metro Manila, but also on its failure to address the growing influence of narco-politics in the country.
He manifested his dismay over the agency’s weak performance during the budget deliberations held by the Senate Finance Committee.
The minority leader underscored the urgency for PDEA to address narco-politics citing the evident policy of the present leadership not to touch drug pushers and financiers who are related to prominent national and local politicians.
At one point, he asked PDEA Director General Jose Gutierrez, Jr.: “Did you instruct the regional directors of PDEA to crack down on the political protectors of drug pushers? Or was the instruction to back off if they are related to politicians?”
He cited the recent arrest of an Elisa Tinga who he said was identified and arrested by the PNP and not by PDEA. It took the police to wrangle information from the suspect that she is a relative of a prominent politician in Taguig.
He stressed that politicians and other government officials and their relatives must not be exempted from the scope of PDEA’s intelligence gathering.
“If I have a relative who’s a drug pusher, arrest him,” he said.
“How can I stand by my earlier decision asking this body to transfer the job of drug enforcement to PDEA, when you can’t even arrest the drug pushers outside my house?” he chided PDEA Director General Jose Gutierrez, Jr.
The senator also lamented the fact that a year has already passed since the last budget deliberations without any significant reduction in the drug incidence in the country and even in his own city of Taguig.
He said that extra efforts must be put in by PDEA in all cities already identified as drug transshipment points in order to effectively check the spread of drug-related activities in these areas.
Cayetano said he doesn’t seem to see that happening even as he prodded all drug enforcement agencies to propose measures that can further help in the national campaign against illegal drugs.
The lawmaker noted that while it is commendable that PDEA tries to address the transnational shipment of drugs, more focus should be given to address narco-politics.
“We must ensure that government officials, whether elected or appointed, are against drugs and are not the ones who protect the pushers,” he said.