THE Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency is asking Congress for more funds for intelligence and procurement of equipment in order to effectively carry out the anti-illegal drug campaign of President Rodrigo Duterte.
PDEA Director General Isidro Lapena, during a Senate finance committee hearing on the proposed budget of the agency, asked for P177 million in additional intelligence funds, which supposedly will be used to strengthen intelligence gathering and a reward system.
The additional funds, according to the PDEA chief, will be used in monitoring marijuana plantations and transnational groups involved in manufacturing and trafficking of drugs and local groups involved in distribution of drugs.
Part of the intelligence budget is intended for support to intelligence projects and workshops of other law enforcement agencies and for use as show money.
The PDEA will be allotting P50 million to its reward program, noting that the agency is yet to pay 14 of its informants the amount of P18 million.
Aside from bigger intelligence fund, it is also asking Congress for a bigger budget for procuring more firearms and K-9 units and hiring more agents.
The PDEA is asking P60 million for its capability-building program, which involves recruitment and training of 300 agents for next year.
The anti-drug agency will also be spending P3.690 million for its K-9 breeding program that involves getting 30 additional dogs and handlers.
It will be allotting too P66.35 million for procurement of 332 short firearms and 226 long firearms.
According to the PDEA chief, some 892 short firearms they are using are constantly jamming and are under repair.
Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri, in an interview after the budget hearing, vowed to support the request of PDEA for additional budget.
He said the agency at present has only 1,200 law enforcement agents for 102 million Filipinos and 80 percent of firearms are not in good condition.
Zubiri added that he would support the proposal to increase the PDEA’s budget from P1.014 billion to P1.217 billion.
Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, in another interview, said aside from new equipment, the PDEA also needs to improve its conviction rate, which is averaging only 24 percent.
He added only 24 percent of those arrested by the PDEA go to jail while cases against the 74 percent led to either dismissal or acquittal.
“There is a need to improve the conviction rate because the war against drugs is not about the number of suspects killed but the number of suspects jailed,” Gatchalian noted.
Meanwhile the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) will also need additional funding to rehabilitate drug dependents who would be arrested in the anti-illegal drug campaign of the government.
DDB Deputy Executive Director Benjamin Reyes said they expect one million drug dependents to surrender by the end of the year and they need P4 billion to rehabilitate them.
He added that majority of surrenderers would undergo community-based treatment that involves counseling while, only one percent would undergo in-patient rehabilitation.
Zubiri said the DDB told the Senate that eight rehabilitation centers would open this year but they are still not enough to accommodate the number of drug dependents expected to surrender this year.