MANILA—The newly-created Philippine National Police Drug Enforcement Group (PDEG) will soon have a total strength of 477 officers and men to operate nationwide.
The new PDEG was formally launched Monday and was mandated to lead in the government’s all-out war against illegal drugs.
”We are authorized to have the strength of 477 nationwide based on our structure,” PDEG director Senior Supt. Graciano Mijares said in a press conference in Camp Crame, Quezon City on Friday.
Mijares said the PDEG needs around 500 personnel but they have so far only recruited 54.
”Yung 54 personnel, most of these nakuha din natin from the former AIDG (Anti-Illegal Drugs Group) but then ito karamihan (most of whom) is on the admin side,” he added.
”I think as of this morning, we have more or less 60, including police commissioned officers and non-commissioned officers, who have signified their intention to join us,” Mijares said.
It can be recalled that President Rodrigo Roa Duterte abolished the AIDG following the alleged abduction in Angeles City, Pampanga of South Korean businessman Jee Ick Joo and his subsequent killing inside Camp Crame, Quezon City on Oct. 18, 2016.
Mijares said they also plan to recruit members from the PNP-K9 (bomb-sniffing dogs) unit and SWAT (special weapons and tactics team) to function as tactical operatives.
PNP chief Director General Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa had earlier said he expects the recruitment of new PDEG operatives to be a slow process, if only to ensure that all the group’s personnel are of unquestionable character.
Dela Rosa added that all the PDEG’s prospective members will have to undergo an intensive background investigation to make sure that the group is not infiltrated by rogue cops like SPO3 Ricky Sta Isabel, who used the previous anti-drug campaign to advance his personal interests.