Agent’s death won’t dampen PDEA drive vs. illegal drugs
By Christopher Lloyd Caliwan
MANILA (Philippines News Agency) — The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) has vowed to continue its relentless campaign against illegal drugs despite the inherent dangers faced by law enforcement officers, noting the campaign has remained as the top government priority.
PDEA Director General Aaron Aquino stressed this in view of the recent death of agent Jack Roland Bastatas who was killed during a buy-bust operation in Mindanao on September 2, 2019.
“Our drug law enforcement officers or agents are fully trained to conduct anti-drug operations. However, during these operations where there is a firefight, there is a chance that they will be wounded, or worse, killed,” Aquino told Philippine News Agency (PNA) Sunday.
Based on PDEA’s record, 19 PDEA agents have died during anti-drug operations, with 12 in Mindanao, since 2008.
The PDEA lauded the agents for their dedication, commitment in the performance of their duties, and responsibilities despite the high risk they face every time they conduct anti-drug operations.
“Any anti-drug operation, whether buy-bust, interdiction, or implementation of search warrant, is high risk because the targets of these operations are armed and will fight back. In these operations, our operatives are exposed to high level of danger,” Aquino said.
“Most of these high-value targets are often members of armed groups, or are connected with powerful and influential individuals,” he added.
The PDEA chief cited an instance in Lanao province in October 2018 where five PDEA agents were ambushed and killed, while one was fatally wounded after the conduct of a lecture.
Aquino also pointed out that PDEA will continue waging the war against illegal drugs with utmost dedication.
“Kahit mahirap, kahit gaano kadelikado (No matter how difficult and dangerous), we will continue on with the fight until our last breath,” he added.
Bastatas, assigned in PDEA Regional Office 9, was fatally shot during a buy-bust operation. He was immediately rushed to the Zamboanga Sibugay Provincial Hospital but was pronounced dead on arrival.
“The PDEA family is saddened by his death. He was a good father to a newly-christened child whom he left home to join the operations in Zamboanga and likewise a good son and a loving brother to his siblings,” Aquino said earlier.
“With his loss, we will not be discouraged, but will remain strong as ever and as determined to fight this battle, remaining true to our vow to eventually eradicate the drug menace,” he added. (PNA)