House backs anti-illegal drugs campaign

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MANILA, Sept. 10 (PNA) — Members of the House committee on dangerous drugs expressed their strong support for the anti-illegal drugs campaign of the Duterte government. They gave their reassurance to law enforcement agencies to work on their budgetary needs and to pass appropriate measures to strengthen their enforcement capabilities.

In a recent hearing conducted by the committee, Rep. Robert Ace S. Barbers (2nd District, Surigao del Norte), the panel chairman, assured officials of the Philippine National Police (PNP), Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), and National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) of the committee’s full support for their anti-illegal drugs operations.

“Rest assured that each of our committee members will always be there to support you. Kakampi ninyo kami. Magkakasama tayo sa giyerang ito. Lahat tayo potential victims ng mga drug addicts at drug pushers. We will definitely give you what you need, as much as we can. We will provide you with the necessary tools with respect to laws that we will craft in the future or perhaps amend existing laws, and will also give you budgetary support,” said Barbers.

Barbers said the committee is open to proposals which are new or seeking to amend existing laws especially in the area of boosting the enforcement capabilities of the PNP, NBI and PDEA to stop the drug problem.

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So far, he said, there were 40 bills, four resolutions and four concurrent resolutions referred to the committee as of Aug. 31, 2016.

In terms of budgetary support for law enforcement agencies, Barbers vowed to talk to House leaders concerned to push for the proposed budgets of law enforcement agencies for next year for their anti-illegal drugs operations.

“We also want to help you on your budgetary needs as we’ve seen, your budget is meager. Rest assured we will talk to the appropriations committee when your budgetary proposals reach the plenary. We will also talk to Speaker Alvarez to provide for your budget so we will have enough ammunition against our enemies who are the drug lords,” said Barbers.

Barbers said Congress, the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Philippine Drug enforcement Agency (PDEA) might come up with an acceptable rate for the agencies’ budgetary proposals for their anti-illegal drugs operations.

According to Police Director Benjamin Magalong, Acting Deputy Chief for PNP Operations, the PNP has proposed a Php 1 billion budget for its anti-illegal drugs operations while the PDEA was also seeking a Php 1 billion budget for next year.

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Barbers asked the law enforcement agencies to submit their wish list to the committee for proper action. “Maybe you can give us your wish list of your needs. We may not be able to solve all your problems, but we may be able to reduce or minimize them,” said Barbers.

Per the query of retired police general now Rep. Romeo M. Acop (2nd District, Antipolo City) on the current budget of law enforcement agencies for their anti-illegal drugs operations, PNP officials said they were allotted Php 36 million while the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) had no budget for such in 2016 and only relied on fund assistance from the PDEA and the NBI Director’s intelligence budget.

According to PNP officials, of their Php 36 million budget for anti-illegal drugs operations, Php 20 million came from congressional insertion from the Senate. This means the actual amount allotted by the PNP is only Php 18 million.

“Kawawa naman ang Anti-Illegal Drugs Group (AIDG). The Php 36 million budget, which is equivalent to Php 2 million monthly, is not enough,” said Acop.

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Meanwhile, lawyer Roselyn Borja, Officer-in-Charge and Deputy Director-General for Administration of PDEA, said Php 317.33 million had been allotted for the agency’s anti-illegal operations, including an intelligence fund of Php 73 million, under its maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE) budget for 2016.

Borja said the PDEA gives assistance to the PNP. Moreover, she said the monetary rewards for “Operation Private Eye” of all law enforcement agencies come from the PDEA’s Php 73 million intelligence fund.

Among those who attended the committee hearing were: Justice Undersecretary Erickson Balmes; Sr. Supt. Albert Ignatius, Chief of the PNP Anti-Illegal Drugs Group (AIDG); Chief Supt. Camilo Pancratius Cascolan, Acting Director for PNP Operations; Sr. Supt. Rene Pamuspusan, Chief of the PNP Law Enforcement Division under the Directorate for Operations; Assistant Regional Director Roel Bolivar, NBI Deputy Director for Regional Operations; and Jasmin Peralta, M.D., R.N., RMT, Program Manager of the Department of Health (DOH) Dangerous Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment Program, Office for Special Concerns.(PNA)
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