Inter-agency group formed for tighter watch on illegal drugs passing through Iloilo seaports

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Photo by Emme Rose S. Santiagudo

THE SEAPORT Inter-Agency Drug Interdiction Task Group for the Western Visayas Region (SIADITG-VI) has been formed to tighten the watch on illegal drugs that come through seaports in Iloilo, once tagged by the President as one of the worst narcotics areas in the country. “One of our biggest challenges, like any other regions, is the topography of our island,” said Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Regional Director Alex M. Tablate during the agreement signing on the new group. The SIADITG-VI is composed of representatives from the regional offices of PDEA, Bureau of Customs, Coast Guard, Philippine National Police-Regional Maritime Unit, Maritime Industry Authority, Philippine Ports Authority, National Intelligence Coordination Agency, and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources. Mr. Tablate said they want to send out the message to “transient” drug peddlers that Iloilo ports, especially the Iloilo International Port in Iloilo City, is closely guarded. “With the initial salvo that the different local enforcement units have initiated resulting in the arrest of high-valued targets and the conduct of HIOs (high impact operations) which indeed made a difference, it is also high time now for us to adopt initiatives and measures in protecting and safeguarding our port of entries,” he said, “We expect more apprehensions and in the upcoming activities, the mobilization of our personnel will be much easier.” — Emme Rose S. Santiagudo