MANILA – The new Director-General of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), Retired Colonel Wilkins Villanueva is not new to his job. In fact, he was one of the pioneers of the agency when he helped develop most of the community interface programs of PDEA, including one that evolved into “Oplan Tokhang” (Knock and Plead) when the agency was created on July 2002 under the administration of then president Joseph Ejercito Estrada.
The fight against illegal drugs must be his career path when he started his career as an anti-drug enforcer in the defunct Philippine National Police narcotic command after his graduation from the Philippine Military Academy in 1988. Together with then Davao City Police Chief Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, they conceptualized and rolled-out the strategy of interpersonal communication and counseling for drug offenders which was adopted by the City Police Office under the administration of then Mayor Rodrigo R. Duterte.
Villanueva’s thesis for his master in public administration course with the Ateneo de Davao University was used for the institutionalization of the barangay anti-drug abuse councils (BADAC) when he became PDEA regional director of Davao. His provincial experiences were brought to the National Capital Region when he was appointed Metro Manila PDEA director in 2009 where he made headlines for dismantling illegal drug laboratories and conducting large-scale anti-illegal drug campaigns and buy-bust operations.
Among the wish lists of the new PDEA chief is the passage of the Magna Carta for employees of the agency where most of his time and talent is well spent. The agency has only about 2,000 employees but their work requires guts and commitment and he wants the government to give them the needed financial and logistical support. Villanueva noted that every time an employee dies in the line of duty, the agency has to beg for financial assistance to the family.
Prior to his appointment by President Duterte on May 22, Villanueva served as PDEA director for Northern Mindanao. He replaced Ret. General Aaron Aquino who is now chief executive officer of the Clark International Airport Corporation (CIAC) in Pampanga.