President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. has appointed former Philippine National Police-Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) commander Moro Virgilio Lazo as Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) director-general, Malacañang confirmed.

Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Director-General Moro Virgilio Lazo (Director, PNP SAF | Twitter)

Office of the Press Secretary officer-in-charge Undersecretary Cheloy Garafil confirmed reports of Lazo’s appointment late Thursday, October 20.

“Confirmed po,” she said in a text message to Palace reporters.

Lazo, who helped in the campaign security of the Marcoses in Ilocos Norte, replaced Wilkins Villanueva, whom former president Rodrigo Duterte appointed to the post in 2020.

The new PDEA chief was appointed as the PNP-SAF commander by the late president Benigno Aquino III in March 2015. He replaced Getulio Napeñas, who was relieved following the Mamasapano encounter that left at least 44 police officers dead in January of that year.

Lazo will now lead the PDEA, the agency that ensures the efficient and effective implementation of drug-related laws.

In an interview at the Asia Society in New York City last month, Marcos, for the first time, spoke publicly about his administration’s plans regarding illegal drugs. He said it would focus more on prevention and cure instead of just enforcement.

“Enforcement, which has been the part of the drug war that has been most vigorously pursued by President Duterte, only gets you so far,” he told former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.

“My approach is slightly different. Perhaps we should look instead of just enforcement — which will continue but in a more focused way — let us also look at prevention,” he added.

Marcos said this as he noted the alleged human rights abuses under the drug war of former President Rodrigo Duterte.

Citing statistics that there are close to 4.5 million drug addicts in the Philippines, Marcos said it was essential to educate the youth that drugs will get them nowhere.

“It will get you in jail. It will get you killed. And even if it does not do that, this will take away your future,” he said.

The President said enforcement of anti-drug laws would continue but noted that he is not interested in the small fry.

Observers noted Marcos’ different approach, after failing to tackle the country’s illegal drug problem in his inaugural speech and first State of the Nation Address.

Source: Manila Bulletin (