By Chito Chavez
Incoming Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Director-General Wilkins Villanueva on Wednesday said that adjustments of protocols in the conduct of anti-illegal drugs operations will be in the offing specifically with the wake of the pandemic.
Villanueva said his prime concern is to ensure the safety of the PDEA agents from the disease while being able to perform their duties.
He noted PDEA will formulate new protocols as it faced with a daunting challenge of performing its task to the hilt with the current emergency health crisis.
Citing that his prime consideration is the safety of the PDEA agents, Villanueva in an interview over GMA News said that they will have to identify if their target personalities are in high-risk COVID-19 areas.
He added that PDEA will prioritize areas where there is no case of COVID-19 stressing the need to protect its agents as the agency is extremely undermanned.
“Doon muna kami pupunta sa mga targets na walang COVID kasi marami namang target eh. Uunahin muna namin ‘yung walang COVID (We will run after our targets in areas where there are no COVID cases since we have numerous targets. We will first conduct our operation in places without COVID),” Villanueva said.
With a workforce of less than 2,000, Villanueva insisted the need to prioritize the safety of the PDEA agents.
“Half of that number are performing administrative duties,’’ Villanueva said.
Villanueva noted that the PDEA agents will now conduct training on their plan to implement new protocols.
“Pag-aresto, di kami magfaface-to-face sa tao. Diba sa droplets nakukuha? Siguro likod-likod or what so magkakaroon talaga kami ng training (In making arrests we will not do it face to face. Isn’t it you get infected (by COVID-19) with droplets? Probably we will do it at the back (of the suspects) or whatever that is why we will be conducting training for this),” he added.
He also said that he already talked to former PDEA chief Aaron Aquino, who was appointed to lead the Clark International Airport Corp., to discuss the guidelines of leading the agency.
Villanueva also warned drug personalities to stop their illegal acts especially in this time of health crisis.
He appealed to the illegal drug personalities to mend their ways at the time of the COVID-19 pandemic citing that the drug dependents used the cash aid provided by the government to buy “shabu’’ which should be for the purchase of food and other essentials for their families.
“Kung di tayo magbabago, eh finals tayo magkikita niyan… Pag nag-uniporme na ko, yari na tayo diyan (If you will not change, then we will see each other in the finals (drug operations) then. When I don my uniform, you are doomed,’’ Villanueva concluded.