PNP, PDEA to 'iron out gaps' in coordination during anti-drug operations

The Philippine National Police (PNP) is set to meet with the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) to "iron out gaps and weaknesses" in the agencies' coordination for the government's campaign against illegal drugs.

In a statement on Saturday, May 15, the PNP said cops and PDEA agents were in another incident of "apparent miscommunication" when they were both supposed to conduct buy-bust operations in a Quezon City mall on Friday, May 14.

But the PNP also said "inter-agency courtesy" and communication prevented the situation from escalating to the likes of the deadly shootout along Commonwealth Avenue in February.

"Illegal drugs syndicates are taking advantage of the weaknesses or gaps in the rules of procedure on coordination and inter-operations between the PNP and the PDEA. Kasama ang PDEA, ito ang tututukan natin ngayon para maiwasan na maulit pa," said PNP chief Police General Guillermo Eleazar.

(Together with the PDEA, we will focus on these to make sure they don't happen again.)

In the top-level meeting, Eleazar and PDEA chief Director General Wilkins Villanueva aim to find out once and for all why miscommunication keeps happening. Eleazar stressed the need for all law enforcement units involved in the war on drugs to improve on intelligence-gathering and operations.

"Upang sa ganun, ang ating pagkilos kontra iligal na droga ay patuloy na maging agresibo at epektibo (This is so our campaign against illegal drugs will continue to be aggressive and effective)," Eleazar said.

President Rodrigo Duterte's "legacy" war on drugs has faced endless criticism since the beginning of his term because of its links to human rights abuses and extrajudicial killings. Five years into his administration, the problem of illegal drugs remains.

Malacañang announced Eleazar's appointment as new top cop on May 5.

In his first week in office, Eleazar ordered a revamp of key positions in the PNP. He also vowed that cops would not resort to harassment, including red-tagging, in the government's fight against insurgency. –

Michelle Abad

Michelle Abad is a researcher-writer at Rappler. Possessing the heart and soul of a feminist, she is working on specializing in women's issues in Newsbreak, Rappler's investigative arm.