PDEA-12 puts up drug testing lab

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/30 August)– The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) in Region 12 has established its own drug testing and analytical laboratory here to further enhance its operation against illegal drugs.

Aileen Lovitos, PDEA Region 12 director, said the newly-completed regional laboratory is equipped with the necessary equipment and facilities that are capable of detecting, identifying and analyzing various illegal drug substances.

“This laboratory will enhance our operational capability, especially in our continuing fight against the proliferation of illegal drugs in the region,” she said during the facility’s formal unveiling on Thursday.

Lovitos said the laboratory will mainly be used to test arrested illegal drug suspects and the analysis of drug samples that are recovered during their operations.

The PDEA central office’s laboratory service delivered some basic equipment that can be used in analyzing the presence of amphetamines and tetrahydrocannabinol that are found in methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu and marijuana samples, respectively.

The official said the regional laboratory, which is situated within the PDEA Region 12 compound at the Camp Fermin Lira here, will officially begin its operations starting September 1.

She said it will be manned by two licensed chemists who were earlier trained at the PDEA central office’s laboratory.

Lovitos said the establishment of the laboratory, which cost around P280,000, was earlier pursued by their office to facilitate the proper handling of drug samples and other evidences recovered during their anti-drug operations.

She said the agency previously relied on the Police Regional Office 12’s crime laboratory here for the testing, analysis and storage of recovered drug samples.

In some instances, she said they would send the samples to the PDEA Region 11 laboratory based in Davao City.

Under Republic Act 9165 or the Dangerous Drugs Act, the PDEA is mandated to take charge and have custody of “all dangerous drugs, controlled precursors and essential chemicals seized, confiscated or surrendered to any national, provincial or local law enforcement agency.”

PDEA Director General Arturo Cacdac Jr., who graced the unveiling of the laboratory, said the agency is presently recruiting additional licensed chemists to enhance the operations of their laboratories.

He said they are also working on establishing their own laboratories in each of their 16 regional offices in the country.

“These chemists will be trained and deployed later on to the other regional laboratories that we will be opening,” Cacdac said.

The official said the agency is presently fast tracking the ongoing drafting or formulation of their operations manual, which will eventually standardize and harmonize various functions and processes within the PDEA. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)