By Franco Regala
CAMP OLIVAS, Pampanga — A total P21,000,000 worth of facility will soon rise in the City of San Jose del Monte, Bulacan to house the K9 Unit of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).
The facility will be located in the 5,000-square meter lot where the agency has its existing training facility for Narcotic Detection Dogs (NDDs), PDEA Director General Aaron N. Aquino said.
On Wednesday (June 27), Aquino led in the ground-breaking ceremony which was attended by PDEA personnel, Rep. Florida P. Robes of the Lone District of San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan, Mayor Arthur B. Robes of City of San Jose Del Monte, and city employees.
”We shall be rehabilitating our existing NDD training facility through the construction of the bathing and drying areas for NDDs, covered cages, covered court, extension of staff house for K9 handlers and employees, kitchen with mess hall, and a quarantine building,” Aquino explained.
“The rehabilitation of our K9 facility will be a big boost to our anti-drug operations, especially in the detection of concealed illegal drugs where our NDDs have been extensively used,” he added.
Aquino said the procurement of 100 NDDs is the largest in the history of PDEA. He added that PDEA is currently in the process of acquiring 100 additional NDDs.
PDEA currently has a total of 72 NDDs, 34 of which are being utilized in anti-drug operations by the Regional Offices across the country, 13 deployed to Regional Office National Capital Region (RO- NCR) in their Seaport Interdiction Units, Bureau of Corrections, 4 prepared for breeding, and 21 are for adoption.
PDEA adheres to its implementing guidelines for adoption of this NDDs. The first ever created Standard Operation Procedure Manual in the history of PDEA, requires that the one who donated the NDDs shall be the first priority to adopt these dogs, second priority are the K9 handlers, third are the K9 employees, fourth are any of PDEA employees, and lastly are individuals who are financially and humanely able to take care of the dogs.
The improvement of the K9 facility is one of the projects of Aquino to enhance the capability of PDEA as the lead agency in the national anti-drug campaign.
Improvement of the facility will be undertaken from the P3.5 million Congressional Initiative of Senator Antonio F. Trillanes IV and P17.8 million budget under Capital Outlay of PDEA from the General Appropriations Act (GAA) for Fiscal Year 2018.
The PDEA K9 facility was established in 2009 with 13 trained dogs mostly donated by the Philippine Coast Guard. These NDDs of different breeds were handled by animal keepers who went through K9 handling courses and were specially trained by experts at the PDEA Academy.
With the improvement of the existing training facility, the PDEA chief said they are envisioning to make the facility the premier Narcotic Detection Dog training canter in the country that will serve as the training hub for all NDDs used by other law enforcement agencies nationwide.
It will be able to house the 100 NDDs which the agency will be acquiring, in addition to the 72 in-house dogs, to bolster the monitoring and interdiction capabilities in the airports and seaports throughout the country.
PDEA has also hired additional 100 new K9 handlers, which is also the largest in its history.
The new NDDs and newly-hired K9 handlers will be deployed in seaports and airports nationwide.
“This is also to ensure the swift recovery of illegal drugs during greyhound operations in correctional facilities and implementation of search warrants issued by the courts,” Aquino said, adding that K9 units are one of the most important and vital elements in anti-drug operations. “The superior sense of smell of dogs, which is a thousand times stronger than humans, makes them a valuable tool in the detection of concealed illegal drugs.”(FRANCO G. REGALA)