Photo courtesy of PDEA XI

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – The drug enforcement agency tasked to oversee and implement the anti-illegal drugs campaign in this region is in need of more operatives, an official said Wednesday, October 18.

Atty. Ben Joseph Tesiorna, legal officer of Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Region 11, said only five to seven operatives are available to oversee an operation in every province when the ideal number should be around 50 operatives per province.

“Undermanned kaayo (We are very undermanned). For me the ideal number should be 50 men,” Tesiorna told reporters in an interview at the Royal Mandaya Hotel here.

He said the PDEA 11 only has 50 to 60 operatives to oversee the anti-drug campaign in the whole region. Tesiorna said he, himself, would join operations because they lack manpower.

Tesiorna added that the agency is targeting around 1,000 candidates to enter their academy for the whole country. PDEA currently has 200 applicants.

However, he explained that just because they’re undermanned “doesn’t mean we can’t do it.”

Unattractive compensation

Tesiorna said among the reasons why there are a few people who are encouraged to apply in PDEA is because of the small compensation and the risk of the job.

“The compensation is not as attractive and second, the risk of the job. If you are going after drug cartels, they can just put P100,000 over our heads,” Tesiorna said.

He said unlike police officers who receive allowances on top of their regular salary, a PDEA agent only receives hazard pay and monthly salary.

President Rodrigo Duterte on October 10 signed a memorandum order addressed to all agencies involved in the implementation of the Republic Act 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 directing the PDEA as the lead agency of the campaign against illegal drugs.

This week, he admitted during his speech in Camarines Sur that PDEA is “really undermanned.”

Assistance from the police

But Naravy Duquiatan, officer-in-charge of PDEA 11 clarified that even if the PDEA is now the lead agency for drug operations, they still may ask assistance from the military and the police during big time operations.

“The directive of Philippine National Police Director General Ronald Dela Rosa is that the PNP will assist PDEA in special circumstance, including when the PDEA is engaged in gun battle, losing the enemies, or when the PDEA asks for help. We will also tap the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) if we need assistance,” she said.

Police Chief Inspector Andrea dela Cerna, spokesperson for the Police Regional Office 11 said the police will also conduct arrests even without a warrant drug personalities who are caught in the act or has committed a crime related to illegal drugs trade.

“However, we cannot conduct buy bust or planned operations anymore,” she said. (

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