CITY OF SAN FERNANDO – More than 30 personnel of the Central Luzon office of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), including its director, were reassigned to other regional units in the Visayas and Mindanao for alleged violations of standard operating procedures in the conduct of raids and buy busts, it was learned from highly placed sources.
PDEA3 director Juvenal Azurin was transferred to the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), and was replaced by Director Ismael Fajardo, Jr., from the PDEA elite force, the Special Enforcement Service (SES).
Though he was not directly involved in any irregularity, Azurin was relieved for command responsibility, it was gathered.
PDEA3 provincial officers including its operatives were also removed and replaced by new “faces” from the PDEA National Headquarters.
“Except for the administrative and technical personnel, the entire PDEA3 staff were booted out from their positions and replaced by new members,” said the source, who declined to be named as he is not allowed to speak to the media.
Azurin and his team were implicated by drug suspect Wilfredo Galura in the “tanim droga” during a buy bust sting at Barangay San Vicente, Bacolor, Pampanga sometime in April 26.
Galura eluded arrest with another suspect, but PDEA operatives reportedly recovered sachets of shabu, unlicensed guns including a semi-automatic machine pistol (Uzi), and a calibre .45 pistol at the place of the bust.
Galura, a lead man of the Provincial Engineering Office (PEO), occupies the top post of most sought illegal drugs personalities operating in Bacolor town and nearby areas in Pampanga. He sought refuge in an undisclosed area in Manila where he granted an exclusive interview with a Manila-based television network.
Governor Lilia Pineda said Galura, who has marked 21 years in government service, filed an official leave of absence since the drug bust operations on April 26. She said Galura applied for a month’s vacation.
The source said Azurini’s relief came at a time when government is once agains stepping up its campaign against illegal drugs. “Demoralized mga ahente…nagtrabaho lang sila pero ang kapalit ay sibak sa posisyun [The agents are demoralized. They did their job, and they get sacked in return].”
The turnover ceremony was held at the PDEA National Headquarters in Quezon City on Monday (May 22).
“Fajardo’s assignment to Region 3 was a sort of extension of SES,” said the source, a former PDEA director in Region 3.