President Rodrigo Duterte has taken a bold step in making the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) the lead agency in the government’s campaign against the drug menace.
This move by the President could be viewed by some as tacit admission that the police campaign against illegal drugs has become too steeped in controversy as manifested by snowballing allegations of excessive use of force during their operations.
But the President has done the right thing in relegating the PNP to mere back-up in anti-drug operations of PDEA personnel in the future.
By tossing the drug campaign on the lap of PDEA -– which has been its mandate after all -– the government not only shows its resolve to rid the society of drug traffickers and users, it also shows it is not bending to pressure from certain quarters that have been critical right from the start of President Duterte’s drug war for alleged abuses in anti-drug operations.
The big challenge, however, is this: can the PDEA rise to the challenge when it has fewer personnel to do the job? This is one concern that the government must address or the anti-drug campaign could sputter to a halt in no time at all.