As Philippine tourism moves towards its much-anticipated recovery, the Department of Tourism (DOT) joined hands with the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to beef up security in tourist destinations across the country.
Tourism Development Planning Undersecretary Woodrow Maquiling, Jr. represented Tourism Secretary Berna Romulo-Puyat, who was on official business, in a ceremony at the PDEA Head Office, Quezon City recently.
Together with Maquiling are Director-General Wilkins Villanueva and Chief PNP Dionardo Carlos who co-signed the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) for the PDEA and PNP, respectively.
“We welcome this latest collaboration with our country’s police force and drug enforcement agency in an aim to provide greater deterrence and protection against the illicit trafficking of dangerous drugs in tourist destinations,” Romulo-Puyat said in her message conveyed by Maquiling.
Branded as Tourism Operation Protection Against Illegal Drugs or the TOP-AID, this latest partnership between the DOT, PDEA, and PNP is a follow-through to the TOPCOP program, the tourism security force assisting in maintaining peace and order within areas of high tourism traffic.
TOPCOP was established in 2011 and has trained 5,457 tourist police and put up 365 Tourist Police Assistance Centers (TPAC) in strategic locations across the country.
TOP-AID, the latest partnership between the DOT, PDEA, and PNP, is a follow-through to the TOPCOP program.
Under the new TOP-AID MOA, between the DOT, PDEA, and PNP, the parties agree to cooperate and render assistance to ensure further protection, safety, and security of tourists in DOT-identified tourist destinations.
On the part of PDEA, they have agreed to deploy appropriate manpower to TOP-AID centers in DOT-identified tourist destinations.
Tourist assistance and complaint desks will focus on drug-related concerns.
These tourist assistance and complaint desks will focus on drug-related concerns. They will also lead an information drive on “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.
Meanwhile, other than identifying key tourist destinations with high-tourism traffic where TOP-AID centers may be put up, the DOT will also spearhead the training of these personnel on Tourism Awareness and the signature Filipino brand of service and hospitality that is world-renowned.