CAMP AGUINALDO, Quezon City—The Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency signed today February 28 a Memorandum of Agreement detailing the agencies’ tasks in the renewed “war on drugs.”

AFP Public Affairs Office Chief Colonel Edgard Arevalo said that the MOA signing held at the General Headquarters Conference Room is a vital step in clarifying the AFP’s role in the government’s anti-illegal drugs campaign.

“With this agreement, we can now push through with our new and bigger role in ending the illegal drugs scourge,” Col Arevalo said.

In the new MOA, the AFP will act as a force provider while PDEA will assume as force employer. In line with this, the AFP will expand the Joint Counterintelligence Task Force (JCTF) NOAH, an ad hoc unit created and mandated by the AFP to to conduct drugs-related counterintelligence operations .

NOAH will assist law enforcement agencies in the identification, investigation, and neutralization of persons in the use, sale, manufacture, and distribution of illegal drugs.

Regional task groups under the AFP Unified Commands will also be established to coordinate direct action, intelligence, legal support, and community relations to PDEAs regional offices nationwide.

“The AFP will only be involved in high-impact operations and arrest of high-value targets. Our forces and assets provided for each operation will not conduct ‘Tokhang’,” Col Arevalo added, referring to the street fight against small-time drug dealers, couriers, and users.

PDEA will be the overall lead in all operations, however, the AFP will exert the main effort in conflict-affected areas, particularly where conditions for insurgency, secessionism, and terrorism persist.

PDEA and NOAH will establish an Intelligence Fusion Center in apprehending big-time drug lords and suppression of supply sources and controlled precursors and essential chemicals pursuant to Sec 84 (m) of RA 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002.

“We will also extend legal support in all stages of prosecution to ensure the successful  dispensation of justice,” Col Arevalo said.

The AFP will also assist PDEA in counterintelligence build-up and investigation of personalities in government and influential groups linked to illegal drugs.

Also, both PDEA and AFP will conduct training exchanges in intelligence and counterintelligence, drug enforcement, and preventive education and community involvement in their respective training institutions. The AFP will also open its medical and emergency services for PDEA’s agents involved in legitimate anti-drugs operations.

“The AFP remains focused on our mandate to address internal and external threats to the country. This MOA will help us draw the line in response to President Rodrigo Duterte’s order for the AFP to help in the war on drugs,” AFP Chief of Staff General Eduardo Año said.