PDEA concentrating on demand reduction in war vs drugs

CEBU CITY – The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA)-Central Visayas (Region 7) said the country is shifting its focus in the campaign against illegal drugs from supply reduction to demand reduction.

The shift however, doesn’t mean that the war on drugs is slowing down, the newly installed chief of the PDEA-Central Visayas, Jigger Montallana, said on Tuesday, Feb. 7.

“There is nothing new actually. We have a template in our anti-drug campaign and we are anchored on the Philippine Anti-Drugs Strategy that was crafted by the Dangerous Drugs Board, which is the policy-making body of our government when it comes to drug campaigns,” Montallana said during the Open Line news forum.

Montallana, who was named PDEA-7 director on Jan. 19, explained that the country’s anti-illegal campaign is anchored on three strategies: Supply reduction, demand reduction, and harm reduction.

“Our strategy now includes harm reduction which involves intervention on persons who used drugs. This includes rehabilitation and reintegration,” Montallana said.

Montallana disclosed that the new command group of PDEA headed by its Director General Moro Virgilio Lazo has received a directive from President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. to focus on demand reduction.

The demand reduction campaign will be in partnership with various agencies, especially the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), which has taken the initial step by launching the ‘’Buhay Ingatan, Droga’y Ayawan’’ or BIDA program.

“That’s why the BIDA program was launched. In previous years, what was constantly seen was the supply reduction strategy which involves the anti-drug operations,” Montallana said.

Montallana said the barangay drug-clearing program will be intensified as part of the shift in strategy.

“We will shift our focus to demand reduction. That’s the direction that we will be taking in partnership with the Philippine National Police and the DILG. The demand reduction side should also be highlighted and not just the anti-drug operations,” Montallana added.

Montallana also welcomed the creation of the One Cebu Inter-Agency Interdiction Task Force.

The PDEA-7 director commended Cebu Gov. Gwen Garcia for spearheading the creation of the task force which seeks to prevent the entry of illegal drugs into the province.

“We are fortunate that in the province of Cebu, we have a passionate and feisty anti-drug advocate governor,” said Montallana.

The creation of the task force will give the campaign against illegal drugs a new approach, said Montallana.

“For the past years, we have been fighting illegal drugs within the cities and the barangays. With this project of Gov. Garcia, we will bring the fight within borders. This is very timely because we will already have protocols in the conduct of inspection in private ports or in private yachts,” Montallana added.

Montallana said that the creation of the task force should be replicated in other areas in the country, saying that strengthening the borders is an effective way of preventing the entry of illegal drugs.