PDEA-6 keeps eye on drugs sneaked in cargoes, goods

The K-9 unit of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency 6 inspects cargo at a border quarantine checkpoint in Western Visayas. (PDEA-6 photo)

By Jennifer P. Rendon

With or without the COVID-19 threat, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency 6 (PDEA-6) declared that it’s still business as usual.

While illegal drugs movement could be hampered by the extensive enhanced community quarantine, PDEA-6 acknowledged the possibility that illegal drug personalities would still grab every opportunity to slip illegal drugs supply into the region.

“We already saw the possibility that they would sneak illegal drugs through cargoes and goods that are being brought into the region,” PDEA-6 chief Alex Tablate said Tuesday.

To avert the entry of illegal drugs in the region, PDEA-6 has conducted eight interdiction operations, mostly at the provincial/quarantine borders of Capiz and Antique.

“We have already foreseen that since transport of food items and other essential things would be allowed, this might be utilized by druggies to slip through the authorities’ dragnet,” Tablate said.

The PDEA regional chief said that drug couriers would still try to sneak in illegal drugs, since most of the supply that comes in to the country are from abroad.

“They would try every means to do it and we should be several steps ahead of them,” he said.

Since March 20, several PDEA teams, in coordination with members of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF), have been deployed to do interdictions – random paneling and K-9 sweeping at seaports in the region.

Cargoes and essential goods arriving to the provinces were inspected.

So far, no illegal drugs were seized nor detected during the said inspection.

Aside from ports and seaports and quarantine control checkpoints (QCPs), Tablate said some might avail of courier services to send contrabands.

Meanwhile, Ma. Graziella Tanaleon, PDEA-6 spokesperson, said that the agency’s operating units are presently finalizing selective intel build-up/casing and surveillance in lieu of anti-drug operations, in preparation for post-COVID operations.

This, she pointed out, is done without prejudice to the strict compliance to COVID protocol in all anti-drug related activities.

With the ongoing enhanced community quarantine in the region, Tablate said it is not only the supply that is being curtailed but also the movement of illegal drug pushers on the streets.

“Restricted lang ang movement nila. The ECQ just crippled their operations but it doesn’t stop them. May mga huli pero iilan na lang at kakaunti ang volume,” he said.

With the ECQ order in most areas of Western Visayas to be lifted next week, Tablate said they would double time their efforts, as drug personalities’ movements might go back to normal.