Senate President Sotto not keen on additional ICAD budget

Published November 11, 2019, 7:23 PM

by Ellalyn De Vera & Richa Noriega

By Vanne Elaine Terrazola

Senate President Vicente Sotto III was cold to Vice President Leni Robredo’s appeal for additional budget for the Interagency Committee on Anti-illegal Drugs (ICAD).

Senate Majority Floor Leader Vicente Sotto III (Eugene Loriz Malasig / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)
Senate President Vicente Sotto III (Eugene Loriz Malasig)

Sotto said ICAD’s new co-chairperson is in no position to ask for more funds as he believed that the anti-drug panel was created to only craft policies and make sure that member agencies are doing their mandates in addressing the country’s problem with illegal drugs. He said the ICAD has no authority to execute laws.

“‘Yong inter-agency (the inter-agency committee), they don’t have a say on the budget. They have a say on policy but they do not have a say in the budget of the different agencies,” Sotto said in a chance interview before their afternoon session.

Robredo, in her radio program Sunday, said the P15 million allotted for the ICAD next year was not enough due to its broad responsibilities. Among those that needed more funding included the drug rehabilitation and prevention programs.

But the Senate chief said Robredo might have misinterpreted the ICAD’s mandate. He said Robredo should further study the function of the ICAD.

“The budgets for rehabilitation and prevention and other programs, are embedded in the agencies na kasali sa (that are part of the) inter-agency [committee] so baka merong (there might be a) misunderstanding as far as funding is concerned,” he told reporters.

Sotto, on the other hand, advised Robredo to look at the funds appropriated to the agencies in the ICAD and how they were spent.

“Because I know they have enough, some agencies,” he believed.

Meanwhile, Sotto said that although he is okay with Robredo seeking the United Nations and US Embassy for inputs, he doubted that it will help improve the government’s anti-drug campaign.

“I don’t think we will learn from those groups,” he said.

“What will we learn from that, they don’t understand the problem in the Philippines. They have their own United States Drug Control Policy Program which is patterned on the UN strategy. But the UN, I think as of now, the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime’s strategies are also quite vague,” he said in Filipino.