Senate to realign P900M Tokhang budget to PDEA, housing – Pimentel

MANILA, Philippines – The Senate is set to slash the P900 million budget of the Philippine National Police earmarked for the drug war after President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency to take lead in the operations.

Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III said he and Senate finance committee chair Loren Legarda already discussed it and said the chamber may realign funds to the PDEA and the housing sector, whose budget dropped to 70% for next year.

“So tinitignan po namin ano ang gagawin dyan sa P900 million. Number 1, kailangan ba ng PDEA ng additional dahil sa kanilang designation? Pero 'wag naman buo. Tapos kung meron namang sobra, priority natin ang housing at saka social services – kumbaga tunay na pangangailangan din ng taumbayan,” Pimentel said over radio dzBB on Thursday, October 12. 

(We are still deciding on what to do with the P900 million. Number one, does the PDEA need additional funds because of their new designation? But not entirely. If there is excess, our priority is housing and social services.)

The Senate is currently deliberating the proposed P3.767 trillion 2018 national budget. The period of amendments, where the realignments will take place, is set to resume on November 20, as Congress is on recess until November 13.

Legarda, for her part, said the PNP budget would have to be cut, following the controversies involving the police.

Tatanggalin ang hindi kailangan. Tatanggalin ang hindi mabuti at ililipat sa ibang ahensya o line item sa DILG budget,” Legarda told reporters on Wednesday. (We will remove those not needed. We will remove those that are not good an we will realign it to other agencies or to other line items in the DILG budget.)

Legarda said she already informed PNP chief Ronald dela Rosa, who in turn supposedly accepted the chamber’s decision.

“I mentioned to him [that] I have to revisit the double barrel [budget] and open naman siya. ‘Kahit ano,’ sabi n'ya ‘Ma’am okay lang po kung ano.’ Sabi ko maaaring matanggal lahat, malipat ang iba, mabawasan dahil sa mga pagkakamaling naganap,” Legarda said. 

(I mentioned to him that I have to revisit the double barrel budget and he's open. He told me 'Anything, Ma'am, will do.' I told him the all of the funds might be removed, or some might be realigned, or slashed because of the mistakes committed.)

"The budget alloted for Double Barrel may now be re-aligned for capability enhancement or purchase more choppers to further improve anti-crime operations and anti-terrorism units of the PNP, said Senator JV Ejercito, vice chair of the  Senate finance committee and sponsor of the DILG budget.

PDEA should focus on suppliers

Pimentel urged the PDEA to focus the drug war on the supply side of the drug chain, saying they should run after the suppliers and big-time manufacturers.

The senator said those in the bottom of the chain are just enabled by the suppliers.

“Ang advice ko sa PDEA tutok tayo sa taas, sa supply, mga supplier, 'yun ang ating unahin. Kasi for sure, sa baba hindi naman bebenta ang negosyo....Ang nagtatag yung mga manufacturer, 'yung mga big-time manufacturer,” Pimentel said.

(My advice to PDEA is to focus on the supply, the suppliers, let's prioritize that...  The one who established it is the manufacturer, the bigtime manufacturer.)

Pimentel also appealed to authorities to arrest drug suspects and not kill them.

“ Ako'y nananawagan pa rin ako na all-out pa rin yan kasi nasa batas yan and then ang ating posisyon [ay] mahuli, maaresto, at makulong. 'Yon po yan,” Pimentel said. (I am still calling for an all-out war because it's in our law. But our position is if caught, they should be arrested and imprisoned.)

Pimentel’s statements came after Social Weather Stations survey results showing the public’s distrust in the police and the drug war. A September SWS survey also showed President Rodrigo Duterte’s net satisfaction and trust ratings dropping by 18 and 15 points, respectively. – Rappler.com

Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is a multimedia reporter focusing on media, technology, and disinformation.

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