PR252Senator Grace Poe, Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs, has expressed her full support to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA).

“We are one in the fight against illegal drugs. We will help PDEA as much as we can to win the war against the drug menace”, said Poe, delivering a speech during PDEA’s 13th Anniversary Celebration held on June 9, 2015 at PDEA Gymnasium, PDEA National Headquarters in Quezon City.

“It is made clear to me that a three-pronged initiative is needed to intensify the national anti-drug campaign that is, to put more teeth to the anti-drug law, give an increased budget to PDEA which means more resources to work on, and take a multi-sectoral approach to counter the drug problem,” Poe added.

This is not the first time Senator Poe has visited the PDEA community. The legislator was also the Guest of Honor and Speaker during PDEA’s Destruction of Dangerous Drugs last January 29, 2014 at the Integrated Waste Management, Inc. (IWMI), Barangay Aguado, Trece Martirez City, Cavite.

“To this date, I have never forgotten the five major concerns that were raised that day by PDEA Director General Undersecretary Arturo G. Cacdac, Jr. to further bolster the anti-drug campaign,” Poe said, referring to the following:

1.Enactment of the “Two-Witness Rule” in the required physical inventory and photograph of seized illegal drugs under Section 21, Article II of Republic Act 9165 or “The Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002”;

2. Amendment of Republic Act 4200, or “The Anti-Wiretapping Law”;

3. Granting of hazard pay to PDEA operatives who are directly exposed to varied dangers and health risks during the conduct of anti-illegal drug operations and increase of monetary rewards to confidential informants;

 4. Hiring of an additional 3,000 PDEA personnel; and

 5. Utilization of income coming from regulatory fees in the processing of licenses and permits.

In response to PDEA’s concerns, Poe has co-authored Republic Act No. 10640, a law amending the present provision of the Dangerous Drugs Act that streamlines the reduction of the needed witnesses to only two, together with the accused or his counsel during the inventory of confiscated dangerous drugs.

Poe expressed that pushing for the amendment of the anti-wire tapping law to include illegal drug activities remains a sensitive issue given its conflict in the invasion of citizen’s privacy of communication and ensuring prevention of the abuse of authority.

On the other hand, Poe has vowed to recommend an allocation devoted to the hazard pay of PDEA agents and cash rewards to civilian informants to be included in the 2016 General Appropriations Act (GAA). In addition, the request for more PDEA personnel to occupy regular plantilla positions for inclusion in next year’s national budget will be highly considered.  However, all the requests for budget allocation shall depend upon the prior approval of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).

With regard to PDEA’s use of collected regulatory fees to alleviate the need for adequate funding, Poe suggested the inclusion of a “use-of-income provision” in the agency’s appropriations bid.

As Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs, Poe seeks to include under PhilHealth coverage the treatment and rehabilitation of drug dependents, a part of the committee report on Senate Bill No. 3, or “The Free Drug Rehabilitation Act of 2013”.

Cacdac on his part thanked Senator Poe for gracing the anniversary celebration and thanked the senator for her unwavering support to the national anti-drug campaign, particularly in addressing PDEA’s five areas of concern.

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