The Bureau of Customs (BOC) and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) have renewed and intensified their collaboration to prevent the entry of illegal drugs and controlled precursors and essential chemicals (CPECs) into the country through a new memorandum of agreement (MOA).
The MOA, signed by Customs Commissioner Rey Leonardo Guerrero and PDEA director general Aaron Aquino on January 31, includes programs and strategies to be formulated and implemented to meet their joint objectives.
Guerrero, in a statement, said “the signing of the MOA between the BOC and PDEA is an affirmation of the strong cooperation in our operations, carried over from the previous year.”
He added, “We are bound as allies by our pledge of service and driven by our determination to secure our nation and our people from the threats and effects of illegal drugs. We affirm today our commitment to a common objective and our intent to activate mutually beneficial programs of action. Let us learn from the events of the past and ensure that those lessons are put to good use.”
For his part, Aquino stated that 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 MOA amends the previous agreement between PDEA and BOC signed on September 10, 2010.
BOC said the new agreement states that PDEA shall take charge and custody of seized or surrendered illegal drugs, and CPECs seized in BOC’s anti-illegal drug operations, as well as take the lead in conducting anti-drug operations and investigations.
Among the general provisions of the new agreement is for the customs commissioner to have direct control and supervision over the selection of the members of the BOC Customs Anti-Illegal Drug Task Force (CAIDTF). However, the PDEA director general may recommend the removal or replacement of any member of CAIDTF for just causes, and after observing due process.
The customs commissioner also has operational control of CAIDTF, while the operational supervision is shared between the Customs commissioner and PDEA director general.
PDEA shall deputize selected members of CAIDTF in the conduct of anti-illegal drug operations.
PDEA shall also 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. It shall also provide BOC with any intelligence information regarding all shipments suspected to contain illegal drugs and CPECs.
“Another key area of collaboration and coordination between PDEA and BOC has been to ensure that all air parcels, baggage and shipments arriving through NAIA warehouses are cleared of illegal substances and unauthorized import of other controlled chemicals,” Guerrero noted.
Aquino said 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.
Aside from sharing and assisting in intelligence gathering and investigation of suspected drug smuggling activities, BOC pledged to provide access to authorized members of PDEA during the physical examination of shipment with derogatory information, and random inspection of cargoes of pure CPECs covered with PDEA permit.
BOC also agreed to promptly turn over to PDEA any person apprehended for violation of the anti-drug law, confiscated dangerous drugs, CPECs, and laboratory equipment after a proper inventory has been conducted.