The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) needs more manpower in order to become more effective and efficient in running after illegal drugs syndicates operating in the country, its former head said.
As a multi-billion peso illegal operation, former PDEA director general Wilkins Villanueva said the illegal drugs syndicates would do everything to sustain their operations and as such, this must be countered with more agents that would work on them--from intelligence build-up to the actual operations.
“Despite the country’s intensified fight against illegal drugs, PDEA, being the lead agency in the anti-drug campaign, is plagued by lack of manpower. Currently, PDEA has a limited frontline capability with only 2,014 drug enforcement officers," said Villanueva.
“Unlike their military and police counterparts, PDEA agents are paid a modest salary and receive less compensation and benefits. In many instances, PDEA agents are deployed in distant and unfamiliar regions, thus placing great strain on their relationship with family and loved ones. They also logged extended and erratic hours doing covert and surveillance operations behind enemy lines,” he added.
Villanueva also highlighted the risk that each PDEA agent takes in the campaign against illegal drugs.
He cited the case of PDEA Investigation Agent III Daniel Discaya, Assistant Provincial Officer of PDEA Regional Office III-Pampanga Provincial Office who died in an ambush in Pampanga.
“Every single day is a risk for operatives of PDEA. Whenever they swing into action, they constantly put their lives in peril, all in line of duty. Each time PDEA agents like Investigation Agent III Daniel Discaya, Assistant Provincial Officer of PDEA Regional Office III-Pampanga Provincial Office, head out to work, they encounter armed and dangerous drug dealers, or henchmen of powerful drug trafficking syndicates waiting in the shadows,” said Villanueva.
According to Discaya's colleague, despite being a senior agent, he still chose to do most of the leg work. He didn’t have to go to street operations, and act as a poseur-buyer because he can just give orders for those. But he still did.
“Up to his last days of his life, he showed to his men and the people that he was a PDEA operative,” the colleague said.
A number of PDEA agents either died in the operations or were ordered killed by illegal drugs syndicates.