Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Director-General Wilkins Villanueva warned on Wednesday, June 23, that the agency may have no choice but to divulge the courts that have yet to grant their requests for search warrants on suspected dens of drug personalities.
“Siguro papangalanan na natin kung anong korte yung ano (not issuing their requests for warrants). 2020 pa kasi yung ibang request natin, 2021 na ngayon, nasa kalagitnaan na tayo (We made the request in 2020 and now we are in 2021, middle of the year),’’ Villanueva said.
Since the courts temporarily suspended face-to-face court transactions due to the pandemic, Villanueva admitted that their work was hampered a bit since virtual operation cannot be done during ocular inspections.
“But right now ang korte is tumatanggap na ng face to face interaction (the court is accepting face to face interaction) so I believe it’s time now para malaman natin ano na yung status nung mga request namin for ocular inspection (to know the status of our request for ocular inspection),’’ he added.
The PDEA chief noted that less than 10 courts impose different guidelines on their requests since they are handling bulk drug cases in their respective salas but the Supreme Court has issued another circular to the Department of Justice (DOJ) pertaining to PDEA’s requests.
With regard to the drug rehabilitation program, Villanueva said that the scheme is being enforced relentlessly but the prohibition on mass gathering due to the pandemic has stalled the project.
“So kapag wala kang mass gathering hindi ka makakapagconduct ng community based drug rehabilitation program dahil kailangan may gathering. Yun ang nakakahinder (If there is no mass gathering we cannot conduct community-based drug rehabilitation programs since mass gathering is needed. That is the hindrance),’’ Villanueva noted.
To add to these woes, Villanueva revealed that the funds for the drug rehabilitation program is set aside in favor for the financial assistance for the poor individuals affected by the pandemic.
Instead of having cleared 7,000 barangays, Villanueva said the scenario led anti-drug authorities to clear only 3,000 barangays which is off target.
“Medyo mababa (It is quite low) at (and) what we are hoping is bumalik na sa normal ang sitwasyon so that makapag start tayo ng community based drug rehabilitation program (things get back to normal to enable us to start with the community-based rehabilitation program),’’ Villanueva said.
Explaining further, Villanueva said “key’’in this fight is on the demand side since the drug trade cannot be stopped as long as there is a demand for them at the root level which is the barangays.
“So kapag may demand talagang uulanin pa rin tayo ng droga (if there is demand we will surely be flooded with drugs). It will be a never ending cycle until we stop the demand, there will be no longer selling of illegal drugs,’’ Villanueva emphasized. (Chito A. Chavez)