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New PDEA chief Villanueva says anti-drug campaign will be 'professional,' 'massive'

Newly-appointed Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) director general Wilkins Villanueva on Wednesday said operations under his leadership, including the neutralization of drug syndicates, will be "professional" and "massive."

"Magiging ano tayo, magiging professional ang handling natin, professional and massive ang handling natin sa neutralization ng drug lords, drug syndicates hanggang sa ilalim... papuntang community hanggang sa barangay clearing program natin," Villanueva told reporters.

By massive, Villanueva said he means the agency will focus on the source of illegal drugs per region in coordination with the Philippine National Police.

"Ang ibig kong sabihin kung lahat ng region ang focus, ay 'yung source of drugs walang pupuntahan... 'yun ang ibig sabihin ng massive and it will be coupled with coordination with Philippine National Police," he said.

The Duterte administration's war against illegal drugs has been highly criticized by human rights and opposition groups due to the alleged extrajudicial killings perpetuated amid the enforcement of the campaign.

Law enforcers have been insisting that they are always upholding human rights in their operations, and that the deaths were due to drug suspects violently resisting arrest, resulting in armed encounters.

Villanueva, who served as head of PDEA Northern Mindanao and National Capital Region, said he has always been transparent in his duties, noting that he has no bad record while he is in the agency.

"Hindi naman ako tatagal dito... ako ang pinakamatagal sa drug enforcement sa boung PDEA at pulis so hindi naman ako tatagal sa drug enforcement kung naging hindi maganda ang performance ko, as far as implementation of drug law enforcement is concerned," he said.

"Lahat ng pinuntahan ko walang patayan, except for the big time laboratory in Davao City where there five Chinese drug lords who are chemists in the laboratory, na doon nagkabarilan kami doon," he added.

Villanueva said he would report as new PDEA chief by Monday. He is set to meet PNP chief Police General Archie Francisco Gamboa to discuss if there will be adjustments in the drug campaign as well as to talk about the list of suspected drug personalities in the country.

Earlier, Villanueva said lives of drug agents will be protected during illegal drugs operations as the country is in the state of health crisis, adding that there are only a few agents nationwide.

Villanueva added that PDEA agents would undergo training in relation to the new protocols that the agency will implement. --KBK, GMA News