Bayan Muna Party-list Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate found the P900 million budget being asked by the Philippine National Police (PNP) for its anti-drug war staggering.
The lawmaker on Thursday expressed alarm because of the huge jump: this year, the PNP’s Oplan Double Barrel Reloaded or Oplan Tokhang had a budget of P20 million.
Zarate pointed out that with a P20-million budget, there have been over 12,000 reported deaths related to the government’s war against illegal drugs.
“With a P900 million budget for the Oplan Double Barrel Reloaded, how many more deaths are we expecting here? How many more Kian delos Santoses will die?” Zarate asked, referring to the 17-year-old boy killed by policemen during an anti-drug operation in Caloocan City.
“Sa ganito ho kasing ratio ay papatak na baka umabot sa 540,000 deaths ang mangyayari sa dagdag na budget sa Oplan Double Barrel. Sana naman ho ay hindi na mangyari ito at huli na ang nangyari kay Kian delos Santos (With this ratio it is possible that deaths will reach 540,000 if the budget for Oplan Double Barrel is increased. I hope this will not happen, that what happened to Kian delos Santos will be the last),” he said.
On Thursday, the House committee on appropriations conducted the pre-plenary conference for the proposed 2018 budget for the Department of the Interior and Local Government.
Plenary debates on the 2018 national budget were set on September 4.
Also on Thursday, the PNP said Oplan Tokhang is one of the best programs the police organization ever had.
Police Community Relations Group (PCRG) Director Senior Supt. Rhodel Sermonia said the Oplan Tokhang had a negative reputation because it is being linked to extrajudicial killings.
“Maybe we need the help of media to help us promote the ‘tokhang’ program,” Sermonia said.
According to him, under Oplan Tokhang, more than a million drug personalities have surrendered and thousands of drug pushers “neutralized.”
“It means it is a manifestation that the program is good. That is why we need the media to propagate the message and make the public aware that the ‘Tokhang’ program is not negative,” Sermonia said.
He admitted that the PNP has to educate its personnel to follow standard operational procedures.
“Of course we will learn from the lapses committed by our policemen,” Sermonia said.
The PNP, he said, is finding ways to change the negative view of Oplan Tokhang through community engagements by policemen in barangays.
with RJ CARBONELL