Cayetano to smoke out solons involved in drugs from halls of Congress

By Ben Rosario

Congressmen into illegal drugs, whether as user or pusher, will be smoked out from the halls of Congress under the watch of Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano.

House speaker Alan Peter Cayetano (PCOO / MANILA BULLETIN)
House speaker Alan Peter Cayetano (PCOO / MANILA BULLETIN)

Cayetano aired this assurance at the House of Representatives as he batted for higher pay and benefits for anti-drug operatives of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency.

Speaking before PDEA personnel during the 17th anniversary of the anti-drug agency in Quezon City, Cayetano declared that the proposed Magna Carta for Drug Enforcement Officers and Other Personnel of PDEA will be included in the list of priority legislative measures of the Lower House.

READ MORE: PDEA distributes P11 million in cash rewards to informants on 17th anniversary

The bill was filed by Surigao del Sur Rep. Robert Ace Barbers, chairman of the House Committee on Illegal Drugs.

“Kung meron po gumagamit (ng droga), and worse nagbebenta ng droga or protector ng droga sa Kongreso, kasama po ako sa paglilinis sa ating Kongreso,” said Cayetano.

In his keynote message during the PDEA awarding ceremonies, the House leader reiterated his support for the agency’s bid to put an end to illegal drug operations in the country.

“Let me assure you that the Congress of the Philippines is behind you and we will do everything possible, and we ask for closer coordination,” Cayetano stated.

However, the Taguig-Pateros solon urged the officials of PDEA to be more pro-active and persistent in communicating to the lawmakers about the agency’s logistical or training constraints.

He advised PDEA officials not to stop following up in Congress their financial requirements that would guarantee effective enforcement of drug laws.

In his message, he also reiterated the reason why the Duterte administration needs to implement the relentless campaign against illegal drugs and explained that it is not intended to perpetuate war against human rights.

“The anti-illegal drug campaign, or the drug war as we call it, is not a war on life. Our intention is not to kill people. Our intention is to protect human life, to protect the life, liberty of our people, to protect our people by giving them safe areas to live in, safe streets to walk and safe places to work,” said Cayetano.

“Majority of the Filipinos have appreciated the efforts of the law enforcers to pursue more aggressive anti-drug campaign under the present administration based on the results of the Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey,” he said.

The Magna Carta bill proposes to grant PDEA officers and personnel to receive the following allowances aside from their basic salary based on the Salary Standardization Law: monthly PHP2,000 personnel economic relief allowance (PERA); PHP5,000 clothing allowance; PHP1,500 uniform allowance; hazard pay equivalent to 30 percent of the basic monthly salary; combat pay equivalent to 25 percent of basic monthly salary; representation and transportation allowances; longevity pay; and special counsel allowance ranging from PHP1,250 to PHP4,000 per month.

While the deliberation of the bill may take a long process, Cayetano reiterated the need to do some practical steps in cooperation with the private sector to alleviate the living and working conditions of the PDEA drug enforcers.

He also urged the private hospitals and private companies to partner with PDEA as a way of expressing their gratitude for their service to the Filipino people.