ILOILO CITY -- An official of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) in Western Visayas underscored the role of coastal communities in the fight against illegal drugs.
PDEA 6 officer-in-charge Alex Tablate said the region has many ports of entry considering its topography.
“The role of communities, especially along the coastal areas, is very critical,” he said in a phone interview on Monday, adding these areas could be “maximized” by illegal elements.
Tablate also emphasized that the concern should not only be on illegal drugs but security issues as well.
He thus encouraged communities to “immediately report” to the Philippine National Police (PNP) any suspicious individuals entering through their coasts.
“This is a matter of security. As per assessment of previous apprehensions, there was shipside smuggling most probably coming from the backdoor area,” he added.
Tablate further said in the coming weeks, the Seaport Inter-Agency Drug Interdiction Task Group 6 will meet where the concern along coastal communities will be part of the discussion.
He cited the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), for instance, can be of help in terms of information dissemination.
The task force has been intensifying efforts by conducting random checks in ports and airports to prevent the entry of illegal drugs in the region.
On March 21, a random check was conducted at the Dumangas Port in Dumangas, Iloilo.
The PDEA Airport Interdiction Team also initiated a paneling inspection at the Iloilo International Airport on the same day.
No drugs were detected nor received during the two separate inspections.
In addition to inspections using K9 units, various advocacy materials were also distributed to passengers.
Meanwhile, Tablate said that based on their assessment, shabu was the drug of choice in the country.
The cocaine as per assessment of their regional headquarters could be a “diversionary tactic or intended for other countries, and Philippines was just used as a transshipment point”. (PNA)