Masbate Rep. Lanete defends PDEA’s P1.4B 2018 budget in the plenary

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Masbate Rep. David Scott Lanete defended the P1.4-billon budget of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) for 2018 amid questions of the agency’s role in the more than 65,591 police operations related to drugs and the P6.4 billion shabu shipment from China.

Lanete, vice chairman of the House committee on appropriations, sponsored and the defended the P1.4 billion budget of the PDEA at the plenary, and its request for an additional P934.5 million funding for next year to fund items needed in pursuit of the agency’s mandate.

Act Teachers party-list Rep. Antonio Tinio led the interpellation and asked the role of the PDEA in the 65,591 anti-drug operations of the Philippine National Police (PNP), stating the data included in the accomplishment report provided by the PNP during the deliberation on its 2018 budget, covering the period from July 1, 2016 to August 29, 2017.

Lanete said since the PDEA is the lead agency in the anti-drug campaign per the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act, the agency takes the lead in joint coordination activities and the intelligence gathering activities of the PNP.

Tinio also asked Lanete if it would be correct to say that all of the 65,591 anti-drug operations conducted by the PNP were coordinated with the PDEA.

Lanete said not all of the PNP operations were coordinated with the PDEA because some of these were not initially drug-related. “In the course of the PNP’s mission or operation, the agency might have found something related to drugs and that was when the PNP called the PDEA,” said Lanete.

Lanete also explained that there is a monthly workshop among different government agencies wherein information sharing is done to keep them updated with the times.

Meanwhile, Lanete confirmed that no coordination was made between the PDEA and the PNP on the one time, big time operation which resulted in the death of 32 people in Bulacan.

“Since this was an anti-criminality operation, the PDEA was informed only after the operations. Their anti-drug campaign is called Double Barrel while this one is called Oplan Galugad, so it’s really an anti-criminality operation,” said Lanete.

“So you are saying wala po kayong coordination sa one-time, big-time operations. Wala kayong intel material na binigay sa PNP”,” said Tinio. Lanete confirmed there was none.

Rep. Edcel Lagman (1st District, Albay) asked Lanete if it is correct to say that the PDEA was not involved in extra-judicial killings and in the killing of teenagers Kian delos Santos and Carl Angelo Arnaiz.

Lanete assured Lagman that the PDEA was not involved in EJKs and in the death of the two teenagers.

Meanwhile, Kabayan Rep. Harry Roque said on the issue of the P6.4 billion worth of shabu which entered the country’s ports, it was the PDEA again which pointed to the fact they should have been given the lead in apprehending the drugs since they have the mandate under the law to implement the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act.

Roque asked if the PDEA is ready to file the appropriate charges against members of the Bureau of Customs who could have hindered efforts to investigate the individuals in the P6.4 billion shabu importation given all the technical lapses that they committed in apprehending the prohibited drug.

Lanete revealed the PDEA is ready to file the appropriate cases and is just awaiting the signature of the PDEA head.

“And for that matter, PDEA will not hesitate to file cases against other agencies that would like to step on the shoes of PDEA, the lead agency in the anti-drugs campaign,” he said.

However, he refused to divulge the information of the cases as these are yet to be filed.