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Numbers don’t lie: Ping scores huge budget cut for DDB, PDEA

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If the Duterte administration is so serious in its war on drugs, why did it slash the budgets for 2021 of two major anti-drug agencies – the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency and Dangerous Drugs Board?

Sen. Panfilo Lacson raised this question Wednesday as he noted the cuts affected both agencies’ programs, activities and projects (PAPs).

“May kasabihan tayo: Tulak ng bibig, kabig ng dibdib. Iyan ba ang nangyayari ngayon sa laban sa ilegal na droga sa kabila ng libu-libong napatay na mula noong 2016 pa?” Lacson, who chairs the Senate finance subcommittee that tackled the budgets of the two agencies on Tuesday, said in a statement.

Lacson noted the DDB’s proposed budget for 2021 was P520.4 million, but it was slashed to P344.5 million in the National Expenditure Program (NEP), the version of the budget Malacanang submitted to Congress.

He added the PDEA suffered a similar cut, from a proposed P4.911 billion to just P2.731 billion in the NEP.

“Kung hindi pa isinasantabi ng administrasyong Duterte ang gyera sa ilegal na droga, bakit binawasan ang mga kahilingan o proposal ng DDB mula P520.4 milyon to P344.5 milyon; at ng PDEA mula proposal na P4.911 bilyon to P2.731 bilyon sa NEP?” he said.

On the other hand, Lacson noted President Rodrigo Duterte issued Executive Order 66 in 2018, institutionalizing the Philippine Anti-Illegal Drugs Strategy (PADS) that involves at least 61 government agencies. Yet, he said the NEP provided funding for only four agencies.

Lacson likewise pointed out the augmentations the Senate made for the 2020 budgets of the DDB and PDEA were considered “FLR (For Later Release)” by the DBM.

The DBM, in DBM Circular 580, has yet to release P81.9 million for DDB and P106.1 million for PDEA, he noted.

“Dahil dito, nadiskaril ang kanilang mga nakalinya na at umiiral na mga PAPs tulad ng ICT training at pambili ng ICT equipment,” Lacson said.

“Tuloy dapat ang laban sa illegal drugs, may COVID man o wala. Kaya naiintindihan ko ang hinaing at pakiusap ng DDB at PDEA sa pagdinig kahapon tungkol sa 2021 budget nila kung pwedeng madagdagan ng Senado ang kanilang tinapyas na budget,” he added.