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New anti-drug agency? Aquino says why not just modernize PDEA, DDB

Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency Director General Aaron Aquino is more in favor of the government modernizing the agency and the Dangerous Drugs Board instead of a new body meant to curb the drug menace.

Aquino said all the relevant programs and studies on fighting illegal drugs had already been laid down. He added that the abolition of the two agencies could interrupt the campaign's momentum.

"Imbes na i-slash ang budget namin ng 40 percent bakit hindi palakihin ang budget namin, bigyan kami ng tamang equipment?" Aquino told CNN Philippines.

Aquino said PDEA only had one handheld Raman spectrometer which is used to determine the specific type of drugs on the spot. It was donated by the US.

"Anong ginagamit sa mga region natin? Wala. So kapag may drugs silang nakukuha, dinadala pa sa laboratory to determine. It will take hours," Aquino said.

Aquino made the remarks after Senate President Vicente Sotto III proposed the creation of a Presidential Drug Enforcement Authority, a new agency under the Office of the President meant to replace the PDEA and the DDB.

It aims to put the enforcement and prosecution of drug-related cases, as well as prevention and rehabilitation efforts under one agency.

Sotto said officials and agents of the PDEA and the DDB would be absorbed in the proposed government body.

"Bakit hindi na lang nila i-modernize ang PDEA at Dangerous Drugs Board? Bakit pa kailangan mag-create ng another agency? Is there an assurance that there will be great improvement pag inabolish and PDEA at DDB?" Aquino said. —Dona Magsino/NB, GMA News