Guv positive on revival of ‘Task Force Puerto’

By Rjay Zuriaga Castor

Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor Jr. has announced the possibility of the revival of the Task Force Puerto of the local government of Dumangas town.

The governor positively said this citing the recent appointment of a former director of the Iloilo Police Provincial Office (IPPO) as the new head of the Iloilo province’s Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO).

“When having (Senior Superintendent Cornelio Salinas) on board, we can already see our direction and plan,” Defensor said during a press conference on Friday.

As the PDRRMO chief, the governor said Salinas is also a Provincial Civil Defense (ProCid) officer, which entails responsibilities for maintaining peace and order.

“We have expanded the work of the PDRRMO to include public safety, peace, and order. That is why we have here a department head who came from the Philippine National Police,” he explained.

However, Defensor acknowledged that the re-establishment of the task force needs to be discussed and guided by the original proponent.

“Let us go back to that with the guidance of (4th District Board Member Rolando Distura),” he said.

The Task Force Puerto is a brainchild of then-Dumangas Mayor Rolando Distura. It was established in November 2015 to enhance the security of the Dumangas port in Barangay Sapao.

The primary objectives were to address issues related to human trafficking, the entry of illegal drugs, and smuggled goods in the province.

Salinas was with the IPPO when Distura created the Task Force Puerto.

The task force comprised various law enforcement agencies, including the Dumangas Police Station, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, Regional Maritime Office 6, Highway Patrol Group, Land Transportation Office, Philippine Coast Guard, and other relevant agencies.

In a session on November 28, Distura urged Police Colonel Orly Gabinete, Deputy Provincial Director for Administration of the Iloilo Provincial Police Office (IPPO), to deploy more drug-sniffing dogs at the Dumangas port.

He emphasized the necessity for additional narcotic detection dogs in the port, particularly with the upcoming Dinagyang Festival, which raises concerns on the potential increase in illegal drug trade in the area.

Defensor previously said that the IPPO raised that the entry of illegal drugs to the province usually occurs at seaports.