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Senate may hike PDEA budget

The Senate is keen in increasing the budget for the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) whose performance through the years and into the first two months of President Duterte’s tenure now in the thick of an anti-illegal drug campaign is below par.

This was the sentiment of senators after PDEA officials headed by Director-General Isidro S. Lapeña appeared before the Senate sub-finance committee headed by Sen. Loren Legarda and asked for funds over and above the proposed P1.014 billion budget for 2017.

The PDEA, according to Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri, are out-gunned by drug lords in the multi-billion-peso illegal drug trade and are killed in firefights because they do not have bullet-proof vests.

Zubiri said he is in favor of increasing the 2017 budget of the PDEA specifically for capital outlay such as purchase of firearms – long and short, protective gear like vests, helmets, night-vision goggles, and vehicles.

He said he will support to increase PDEA’s budget from P1,014,236,000.00 to P1,217,521,000.00, or at 2.04 percent increase.

He also recommends increasing the budget for intelligence gathering and operations. The proposed additional funding for intelligence work is P177 million.

Zubiri called on the PDEA “to hire more agents as stated in PDEA’s mandate wherein an anti-drugs team should be formed on a per province and city basis nationwide, not like the current practice of assigning a team per region only.”

He said PDEA agents also deserve more support by way of more lawyers rendering legal services for them.
(Mario Casayuran)