ILOILO – Governor Arthur Defensor Sr., the newly installed chairperson of the Regional Peace and Order Council in Western Visayas, is urging President Benigno Aquino III to grant the request for hazard pay of Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency personnel.
Defensor enjoins the President in a resolution unanimously approved by the members of RPOC during their first meeting held at Hotel Del Rio in Iloilo City.
“We strongly support the request for hazard pay of PDEA since they deserve it. The President should consider that have been exposed to varied hazards and health risks during the conduct of anti-illegal drugs. Some have even died,” he stressed.
In Western Visayas, PDEA has 37 drug enforcement officers. One of them has sustained four gunshot wounds in the body and luckily survived the operation, according to Regional Director Paul Ledesma.
“Most of my agents are also receiving grave threats but despite that, we are always doing our very best to curb drug trafficking in the region,” Ledesma said.
PDEA Director General Undersecretary Arturo G. Cacdac Jr. has proposed the same to the President last year and the President reportedly approved it in principle.
But when it was forwarded to Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, the request fell on deaf ears, Ledesma lamented.
The resolution also supports the request of PDEA for intelligence appropriation to further intensify their anti-illegal drugs operations and other prevention campaigns.
Substance abuse in the region involves 65,000 persons or .92 percent of P7-million population. The users are aging 30-35 years old and are mostly single (54.7 percent) and unemployed (36.74 percent). Some are also in high school (29.69 percent).
PDEA-6 reports state that illegal drugs are affecting 377 barangays or nine percent of the 4,051 barangays in the region. PDEA-6 currently has 3,852 pending drug cases in the Regional Trial Court.
Although the trials take years, conviction rate of drugs cases in the region is 47 percent – the highest in the Philippines. “This is something that we are proud of and we are very thankful to our stakeholders for their active cooperation,” he said.
RPOC also passed a resolution creating inter-agency drug interdiction units to prevent the smuggling of illegal drugs in various seaports and airports in the region.#2014News