THE DEPARTMENT of Tourism (DoT) is beefing up protection of the country’s tourist destinations against illegal substances through the deployment of teams focusing on drug-related concerns.
In a statement on Wednesday, the DoT said it recently signed a memorandum of agreement with the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and the police for the Tourism Operation Protection against Illegal Drugs (TOP-AID).
“Under the new TOP-AID… the parties agree to cooperate and render assistance to ensure further protection, safety, and security of tourists in DoT-identified tourist destinations,” the department said.
“This latest partnership… is a follow through to the Tourist–Oriented Police for Community Order and Protection program, the tourism security force assisting in maintaining peace and order within areas of high tourism traffic,” it said.
The tourism police program established in 2011 has trained 5,457 cops and put up 365 assistance centers in strategic locations across the country.
With TOP-AID, similar assistance centers and appropriate manpower from the drug enforcement agency will be set up.
“These tourist assistance and complaint desks will focus on drug related concerns. (PDEA) will also lead the information drive on the drug free workplace program, while assisting in drug clearing operations including apprehending any person engaged in illegal drug activities in coordination with the PNP and concerned local government units,” the DoT said.
More tourists are expected to enter the Philippines starting April 1 as the government further eases travel restrictions for fully-vaccinated foreigners from all countries. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave