MANILA, July 10 (Xinhua) -- The Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) has acquired 100 canine handlers and their partner drug-sniffing dogs to its force as the anti-narcotics forces intensify anti-drug crackdown to stem the flow of illegal drugs that continue to flood the country.
PDEA Director General Aaron Aquino said a new batch of "man-and-dog teams" comprised of 100 newly-recruited dog handlers and their newly-acquired narcotic detection dogs (NDD) were enlisted on Wednesday after undergoing six months of intensive training at its K9 Training Center in Antipolo City.
Aquino said the skills training was done "to prepare them to provide support in anti-illegal drug operations."
"The newly minted man-dog teams will bolster the PDEA's monitoring and interdiction capabilities in the country's airports and seaports, sweeping searches on baggage, cargoes and parcels, events monitoring, greyhound operations in jails and custodial facilities, and detection of new psychoactive substances being rampantly used as party drugs," he said.
The training included familiarization with substances subject for detection, understanding of K9 behavior, dog's drive development, substance printing, the indication to improve the dog's ability to distinguish scents of illegal drugs, and scent discrimination to develop the dog's ability to differentiate odors of illicit substances, among others, he added.
Aquino said the new K9 handlers and NDDs will be deployed to the different PDEA regional offices and seaport interdiction units nationwide.
Overall, he said the PDEA K9 unit now has a total of 171 NDDs, while 37 retired hero dogs were adopted by their new families. Four NDDs were selected for the breeding program, he added.
Aquino said "the dog's natural capability, when properly trained and assisted by their handlers, continues to be an invaluable asset in the ongoing war against illegal drugs."
On top of the procurement of 100 NDDs worth 42.5 million pesos (about 825,851 U.S. dollars), Aquino said the PDEA is set to purchase an additional 100 NDDs in 2019.
The Philippine anti-drug enforcers vowed to go after higher-level traffickers that continue to operate despite the crackdown launched by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte in 2016.