By Chito Chavez
The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) has vowed to apprehend illegal drug suspects alive and unharmed.
PDEA Director-General Aaron Aquino said that this will happen only if the suspects peacefully yield to the arresting PDEA agents.
Aquino said there are times that lives may be sacrificed if the suspects resist arrest and opt to engage law enforcers in gunfights that endanger the lives of the PDEA agents.
He said it has always been the policy of PDEA to arrest big time or small time drug personalities unscathed as much as possible.
The PDEA chief claimed that the intention of the agency is to imprison, and if possible, rehabilitate both big time and small time drug personalities insisting that under no circumstances will PDEA resort to unwarranted violent acts.
Earlier, PDEA and other law enforcement groups were scored for their supposed cruelty and inhumane behavior in dealing with illegal drug suspects.
Even international human rights groups oined the fray and slammed the Duterte administration for the supposed extra-judicial killings (EJK) committed on illegal drug personalities and other individuals critical of the current regime.
Aquino thanked Malacanang and the public for supporting his call for the mandatory and unscheduled drug tests for grade 4 pupils.
In a recent survey, 51 percent approved of Aquino’s proposal, 36 percent of the respondents rejected it, while 13 percent was undecided.
Allaying public fears, Aquino said that after the conduct of mandatory drug tests, those who tested positive will undergo rehabilitation and counselling.
He stressed anew that they would not go to jail and instead be saved from being drug users all their lives.
The PDEA chief pushed for mandatory drug tests for Grade 4 pupils as random drug testing will not accurately determine the number of illegal drug users in the classrooms.
“If 10 of the 40 pupils in a class tested negative for illegal drugs, there may be illegal drug users in the 30 pupils who were not tested. So it should be mandatory,’’ Aquino said.
Aside from the pupils, Aquino wants mandatory drug tests for faculty members and other school personnel.
To promote transparency, Aquino said that members of the media equipped with body cameras may join in the agency’s drug raids and operations.
He claimed the media may also obtain the unedited and untampered copy of the operations’ footages to prove that the raid was conducted lawfully.