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Barbers wants PNP’s P900-M drug war budget transferred to PDEA

The chairman of the House Committee on Dangerous Drugs has asked that the P900-million budget allocated for the Philippine National Police’s (PNP) drug war be transferred to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA). 

Surigao del Norte Representative Robert Ace Barbers, chairman of the House committee on dangerous drugs, made the request to House Committee on Appropriations chairman and Davao City Representative Karlo Alexie Nograles after PDEA was designated as the sole law enforcement agency to carry out the government’s anti-narcotics campaign.

“May I request, if possible, that the P900,000,000 budget intended for Oplan Double Barrel of the PNP, be transferred and allocated instead to the 2018 operating budget of the PDEA, during the bicameral conference of the 2018 national budget,” Barbers told Nograles in a letter dated October 23, 2017. 

According to Barbers, PDEA’s 2018 budget is a dismal 0.01 percent of the country’s proposed national budget of P3.767-trillion for 2018.

He said there was a need to provide more funds to the agency to keep up with its nationwide anti-drug campaign.

“As the sole agency of the administration’s top priority, PDEA must have the necessary equipment, training and logistics to combat illegal drugs,” Barbers said.

“By providing them (PDEA) with ample budget, I am positive that this war on drugs will soon be sustained,” he added.

Earlier this month, Duterte assigned the PDEA to be the sole agency that would conduct the anti-drug operations of the government, sidelining the PNP, National Bureau of Investigation, Bureau of Customs, and ad-hoc anti-drug task forces.

The Senate finance committee has already added a P1.2-billion budget for PDEA next year.

This gives the agency a budget of P2.59 billion. The approval of the 2018 national budget is pending at the Senate.

Several senators have earlier said that the P900-million drug war budget initially allocated for the PNP will likely be realigned.

Senator JV Ejercito, sponsor of the 2018 budget for the PNP and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), said he would rather see the P900-million budget for the PNP’s capability enhancement.

Ejercito said the budget can be used to purchase more choppers or to “further improve anti-crime operations and anti-terrorism units” of the PNP.

Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III, for his part, said he will recommend the P900-million budget to be realigned to the PNP Internal Affairs Service. —NB, GMA News