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Buy helicopters, senator tells gov’t

With the Duterte administration mired in its controversial anti-illegal drug campaign, a Senate sub-committee pushed yesterday for the purchase of one or two brand new European-made helicopters for the war against the multi-billion-peso billion illegal drug trade.

After a public hearing on the proposed 2017 P117 billion budget of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Sen. Joseph Victor “JV’’ Ejercito stressed that the PNP requires an air asset.

“I lament the fact that the PNP has not one eye in the sky, especially amid the on-going campaign against illegal drugs. This is very vital to their operations. I will really push for it in their 2017 budget,’’ he told Senate reporters.

A member of the Senate finance sub-committee chaired by Sen. Loren Legarda, Ejercito expressed optimism that the PNP might be able to buy at least one or two Eurocopters in its anti-illegal drugs and anti-crime campaigns.

He lamented that the Senate has been setting aside P13 million a year for the rehabilitation of two helicopters “but unfortunately its still under court (Sandiganbayan) case.’’

It costs some $800,000 to $1 million to rehabilitate a helicopter, he said.

But Legarda, according to Ejercito, doesn’t want a rehabilitated helicopter after having three “mishaps’’ in the past.

Thus, the sub-committee would appropriate $2.4 million for each of the three new six-seater Eurocopters which are “very versatile that it could be used for rescue or police operation, he said. (Mario Casayuran)