Senators give additional PHP5-B to PNP for its equipment

MANILA — Senators have crossed party lines to boost the Philippine National Police’s equipment budget next year by PHP5 billion, so that the PNP, in the words of Senate Minority Leader Ralph Recto, “will be able to meet its guarantee of a 15-minute maximum response time to all distress calls in urban areas.”

Recto made the proposal during the Senate plenary debates on the 2017 budget of the Department of Interior and Local Government last Friday. It was accepted by Sen. Loren Legarda, chair of the Senate Finance committee.

The PHP5-billion additional fund for PNP logistical modernization will be lodged in the PHP67.5 billion Unprogrammed Fund in the PHP3.3-trillion 2017 national budget.

Recto said the Senate moved to hike the PNP’s capital outlays (CO) after noticing that it will be cut from PHP3.82 billion this year to PHP3.37 billion next year, or by PHP500 million, “which could slow down its momentum in battling crime.”

Several documents submitted to the Senate tell of an across-the-board shortage in equipment in the national police, “in all aspects of police work, from shoot-move-communicate to offices and data bases.”

In one report, the PNP said it lacks 168,851 long firearms, and half of its 6,169-vehicle fleet need to be replaced or are near decommissioning.

“On paper, there’s an average of three patrol cars per city and town, which is way below what is needed,” Recto said.

But in a recent testimony before the Senate, PNP Director General Ronald de la Rosa, upon questioning by Recto, gave a higher estimate of equipment lack, “of some 18,000 short firearms, 10,000 long firearms, and 16,356 vehicles.”

Recto said the PNP is also short of boats, “with 900 urgently needed, or one per coastal town, so that the maritime police can run after illegal fishers, polluters and sea-borne criminals.”

According to Recto, another area requiring huge investment is communication, especially the nationwide 911 network.

Recto said the PHP5-billion augmentation would allow the PNP to construct 80 police stations at a total cost of PHP425 million, and 47 provincial offices costing PHP493 million.

The budget estimates are in the “wish list of unfunded needs” submitted by Camp Crame to the Senate.

Under its proposal, the PNP plans to buy 256 motorcycles, 132 personnel carriers, 136 light transport vehicles, 229 patrol boats, 283 satellite phones and PHP2-billion worth of anti-terrorism equipment.

The PNP also said it would need PHP45 million for the titling of donated lots.

Recto explained that “the PHP5 billion was put in the Unprogrammed Fund in order not to trigger cuts in the budgets of other agencies. Because if you add funds for one agency, you have to get it from others. So in order not to disturb the appropriations of the rest, we put it there.”

The fund serves as a standby allocation to finance a wide range of projects. It can only be released if new taxes are raised, revenue targets are breached, or new sources, such as loans, are secured.