MANILA, Philippines—Although he hasn’t been asked to join the war on drugs, retired Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan has been briefed on the workings of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency by no less than PDEA chief Dionisio Santiago, himself a retired general.
Santiago said he could make Palparan his deputy for “special concerns” in case the controversial former military officer is appointed to the PDEA by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
“We will discuss with him how best we can utilize him at PDEA,” Santiago told the Philippine Daily Inquirer Sunday in a phone interview.
Santiago said he gave Palparan an overview of what PDEA does during a briefing last week. Afterward, he said, the retired general “seemed to like” the idea of joining the agency.
Prior to the briefing, Santiago said President Arroyo had phoned him to tell him to expect a call from Palparan.
Incoming Press Secretary Cerge Remonde, however, said Sunday Palparan’s appointment to PDEA or the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) was not set in stone.
“It’s not yet sure so to make any conclusions at this point would be speculative,” Remonde said in an interview over Radyo ng Bayan.
Muntinlupa Rep. Ruffy Biazon on Saturday opposed Palparan’s possible appointment to PDEA, saying it would “only draw criticism and dilute whatever public support the government has in the fight against illegal drugs.”
Palparan had been branded a “berdugo” (butcher) by left-leaning groups that accused him of being behind the alleged abduction, torture and execution of their comrades when he was in the military service.
Asked about Palparan’s spotty human rights record, Santiago said he thought the retired general would do well in the fight against illegal drugs.
“You give me people, I’ll utilize them and judge them according to how they will perform,” Santiago said.
He said DDB Chair Vicente “Tito” Sotto III had also expressed interest in getting Palparan on the drugs board representing a non-government organization.
Santiago said Palparan’s network in the communities would benefit the PDEA. He said Palparan could do “advocacy” work and warn the public about the evils of drug abuse.