By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
Malacañang said Vice President Leni Robredo should go to the Congress if she wanted an increase in the budget of the Inter-agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD) because the budget for 2020 was already submitted to the Legislative Branch.
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo made the statement after Robredo sought for an increase in the government’s 2020 budget for the anti-illegal drugs campaign, particularly in the areas of rehabilitation and prevention.
In an interview with CNN Philippines, Panelo said it would be hard to increase the budget since it was already prepared last year. He suggested that the ICAD co-chairperson should go directly to the Senate and House of Representatives for possible realignment.
“Not in this budget, because that has been already prepared in the previous year; kailangan niya siguro Kongreso (I think she needs to go to Congress for that),” he said.
“Nangako naman yata iyong mga ibang senador at saka kongresista sa kanya (I think some senators and congressmen promised to back her up),” he added.
This week, Robredo said the proposed P15 million for the ICAD for 2020 was insufficient considering its wide responsibilities. She also sought for funds to implement the Philippine Anti-Illegal Drug Strategy (PADS), a program developed by the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB).
According to the Vice President, Senator Panfilo Lacson has committed to work on the increase of the funding of ICAD agencies during budget deliberations at the Senate, telling her to just inform him of what the agency needs.
House Speaker Alan Cayetno also expressed willingness to augment ICAD’s budget but appealed to Robredo to stop announcing her plans to the public because drug lords may find the information she releases useful.
“You need more funds? ‘Wag mo nang sabihin sa media. Malalaman pa ng mga drug lords na dadagdagan ka ng pondo o saan ilalagay eh. Makipag-meeting ka sa Kongreso, we will give you the funds kung kinakailangan (Don’t broadcast it. The drug lords might find out where you will put it. Just meet with the Congress and we will give you the funds if necessary),” he said.
Robredo accepted President Duterte’s offer to co-chair the ICAD early this month.