By Genalyn Kabiling
Vice President Leni Robredo should ask Congress if she wants additional funds for the anti-drug campaign next year, Malacañang said Tuesday.
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said President Duterte recognized that the proposed 2020 national budget has already been submitted to Congress and that any amendment should be addressed to the lawmakers.
“The VP wants to augment iyong income ‘no. The President and I talked about this, and he said, iyon ang problema kasi nasa budget na [That’s the problem because it’s already in the budget],” Panelo said during a Palace briefing.
“Kung ano iyong nandoon sa budget, iyon na iyon. Kaya Congress na lang ang dapat niyang hingian. Hindi na mababago na iyon [Whatever is in the budget, that’s it so she should ask Congress. It cannot be changed],” he added.
Robredo, the new co-chair of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD), earlier revealed plans to ask for additional budget for the anti-illegal drug efforts, particularly drug rehabilitation and prevention programs. She also claimed that the proposed P15 million funding for ICAD was not enough.
But Senate President Vicente Sotto appeared not in favor of raising the budget of ICAD, saying Robredo might have misinterpreted the function of the committee. He said Robredo should instead look into how the funds given to member-agencies of ICAD can be utilized.
Panelo, meantime, said the Vice President may want to join the anti-drug operations “without risking her security.”
He said Robredo could either join or monitor the anti-drug efforts to understand the realities on the ground
“There are many ways naman of monitoring eh, ‘di ba? Pareho nung ginagawa ni Mayor Duterte when he was still mayor, lahat ng kalsada sa ano … kapag nanood ka, alam mo na kung ano ang nangyayari,” he said.