PDEA, BOC renew deal vs. drug smuggling

MANILA The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and the Bureau of Customs (BOC) renewed their partnership to prevent the entry of illegal drugs and controlled precursors and essential chemicals (CPECs) into the country.

Under the memorandum of agreement signed by PDEA Director General Aaron N. Aquino and BOC Commissioner Rey Leonardo B. Guerrero at the PDEA headquarters in Quezon City, the two agencies will conduct monthly regular meetings to tackle operational matters, discuss the current status of programs to be implemented, and formulate necessary strategies to meet key objectives.

The present MOA is an amendment to the previous agreement between PDEA and BOC signed on September 10, 2010.

The new agreement states that PDEA shall take charge and have custody of seized and/or surrendered illegal drugs, and CPECs during BOC's anti-illegal drug operations, and take the lead role in the conduct of anti-drug operations and investigation.

The new agreement is an opportunity for PDEA and the BOC to formally strengthen their partnership in the fight against illegal drug trafficking, emphasizing the need for transparency, and closer coordination and cooperation in the interception of smuggled drug contraband, Aquino told reporters after the signing ceremony.

Among the general provisions stated in the new agreement is that members of the BOC Customs Anti-Illegal Drug Task Force (CAIDTF) shall be selected and under the direct control and supervision of the BOC Commissioner.

However, the PDEA Director General may recommend the removal or replacement of any member for just causes, and after observance of due process.

The operational control of the BOC-CAIDTF should be in the hands of the BOC Commissioner, while the operational supervision should be shared by the PDEA Director General and BOC Commissioner.

PDEA shall deputize selected members of the BOC CAIDTF in the conduct of anti-illegal drug operations.

Under the agreement, PDEA and BOC agree to observe utmost transparency to fulfill the conditions stated in the MOA, to create a drug interdiction Task Group to promote a closer working relationship between the parties, and exchange best practices and knowledge concerning smuggling, importation, transportation, and transshipment of dangerous drugs through seminars and workshops, the PDEA Chief said.

PDEA has also committed to establish a comprehensive information collection plan to obtain information on illegal drug activities from sources at all levels, and provide a database system to serve as repository of the same. Also, PDEA shall provide the BOC with any intelligence information regarding all shipments suspected to contain illegal drugs and CPECs.

The MOA also deputizes PDEA personnel to join the BOC in enforcement inspections of all shipments and cargoes pursuant to the country's customs laws, Aquino said.

For his part, Guerrero said the BOC, besides sharing and assisting in the gathering of intelligence information and investigation of suspected drug smuggling activities, pledged to provide access to authorized members of PDEA during the conduct of physical examination on shipment with derogatory information, and random inspection of cargoes of pure CPECs covered with PDEA permit, among others.

The BOC chief also agreed to promptly turn over to PDEA any person apprehended for violation of the anti-drug law, and confiscated dangerous drugs, CPECs, and laboratory equipment, after a proper inventory has been conducted. (PNA)

Source: Philippines News Agency

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