‘P70 million allotted for accurate info on drug war status’

Cecille Suerte Felipe - The Philippine Star
âP70 million allotted for accurate info on drug war statusâ
acson said the DDB sought the fund amid conflicting information about the number of drug users provided by different law enforcement agencies.

MANILA, Philippines — The Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB) has a P70-million budget for this year to come up with accurate information on the status of the war on illegal drugs and the actual number of drug users, Sen. Panfilo Lacson said yesterday.

Lacson said the DDB sought the fund amid conflicting information about the number of drug users provided by different law enforcement agencies.

He noted the DDB did not provide much information on how they would use the P70-million outlay, but merely gave assurance that the board will come up with a credible estimate of the number of users.

“There are no specific details. They just said they will come up with a very credible estimate of the number of drug users and the aspects in the fight against illegal drugs,” Lacson told the Kapihan sa Senado forum.

Lacson recalled the DDB justified the P70-million budget for a survey as President Duterte claimed there were about three million drug addicts as against the DDB and the Philippine National Police estimate of only 1.8 million.

Lacson noted Duterte fired DDB chairman Benjamin Reyes in May 2017 for supposedly contradicting the government’s official data on the number of drug addicts in the country.

Lacson said the budget will also help clarify the pronouncement of the President that the drug problem in the country worsened.

“He (President Duterte) based it mainly on his observation, meaning his perception. This is why the DDB asked P70 million to conduct a survey because during the Senate committee hearings on the budget, that was always the subject of debate among lawmakers. Nobody could say if the number (of drug users) increased or decreased,” Lacson said.

Lacson said P70 million for the DDB is included in the 2019 national budget, which is awaiting approval by the President. He said he wanted to look at figures of huge drug seizures in relation to the campaign against illegal drugs.

At the same forum, Lacson said the Senate does not see the need for a congressional inquiry into the allegations against Michael Yang, the former economic adviser of President Duterte.

Lacson said the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) should lead the investigation of the allegations of former police colonel Eduardo Acierto against Yang.

He said the Senate Blue Ribbon committee has concluded its investigation and recommended the filing of charges against personalities involved.

Lacson said Acierto initially approached him for help as the Blue Ribbon committee headed by Sen. Richard Gordon summoned him to shed light on his involvement in the shipment of magnetic lifters found in Cavite and believed to have been packed with shabu worth up to P11 billion.

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