Lacson: Is administration losing interest in the war vs illegal drugs?

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    SEN. Panfilo Lacson yesterday questioned anew if the Duterte administration is really serious in its campaign against illegal drugs as he noted the big cuts in the 2021 proposed budgets of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency and the Dangerous Drugs Board.

    Last Tuesday, Lacson wondered aloud if Duterte is losing interest in the war against illegal drugs as he questioned the “minuscule budget” of P2 billion allotted to the multi-agency Philippine Anti-Illegal Drugs Strategy (PADS).

    Lacson said PDEA’s proposed 2021 budget of P4.911 billion was drastically cut to P2.731 billion under the National Expenditure Program while the DDB’s funding also took a big hit, being reduced from P520.4 million to P344.5 million.

    He said even the “augmentation” made by the Senate on the 2020 budget amounting to P81.9 million for the DDB and P106.1 million for PDEA was not released and was only included as “FLR” or For Later Release as shown in DBM Circular 580.

    Lacson said this affected the two agencies’ trainings and procurements, particularly of information technology equipment that could be of great help in the campaign against illegal drugs.

    “If the Duterte administration has not yet discarded the war against illegal drugs, why is it that the proposals of the DDB and the PDEA in the National Expenditure Program were cut?” Lacson said.

    He said PDEA Director General Wilkins Villanueva told the senators they would meet with the DBM to discuss the budget cut and the overall funding in the war against narcotics in the country.