Drug-free barangays NCR's dream despite 'war'
MORE than a year after President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs, only 34 of the hundreds of barangays in Metro Manila have been cleared of illegal drugs.
National Capital Region Police Office chief Director Oscar Albayalde told radio dzBB in an interview that only 34 of the 1,706 barangays in the capital region have been cleared from drugs.
Albayalde’s interview coincided with a House leader seeking to institutionalize the program that grants full scholarships to children of police officers killed in the line of duty.
Camarines Sur Rep. LRay Villafuerte said the proposed initiative, as contained in his House Bill 6058, would come from the government’s annual national budget rather than merely relying on license fees for firearms collected by the Philippine National Police.
Villafuerte’s proposal, also widens the coverage of the educational benefits granted to surviving kids of slain PNP officers to include not only the cost of tuition and miscellaneous fees, but also reasonable allowances for books, school supplies, transportation, clothing, as well as food from the moment such children are orphaned until their completion of tertiary education.
“Recent developments in our country bring to our attention the noble, yet dangerous task of protecting national safety and internal security,” Villafuerte, vice chairman of the House committee on appropriations, said in pushing for the passage of his bill.
Villafuerte cited the intense fighting between government troops in Marawi City and the government’s war on drugs which have both claimed the lives of policemen, along with the deaths in 2015 of 44 members of the PNP’s elite Special Action Force.
HB 6058 is the counterpart bill to Senate Bill 1123 filed by Senator Grace Poe for the same purpose.
Villafuerte said that under the current law, Republic Act 6963, surviving children of police officers killed in the line of duty receive educational grants through the PNP Educational Benefits Trust Fund, which is dependent on the proceeds from the license fees for firearms collected by the PNP.
To ensure the sustainability of this program, Villafuerte proposed under HB 6058 “that the PNP Educational Benefits Trust Fund shall receive an allocation in the Annual Appropriations, on top of various other sources.”
These other funding sources include proceeds generated from examination stamps, clearance and certification fees and other service income of the National Police Commission (Napolcom); proceeds from license fees for firearms, and fines and penalties collected by the PNP; all interest income of the trust fund; and grants, donations and endowments from domestic and foreign sources, pursuant to existing laws and regulations.
Under the bill, the PNP Educational Benefits Trust Fund shall be administered by the Napolcom.
Villafuerte said: “This bill deems it necessary to prioritize the educational grant to the orphaned children of our fallen police forces in consideration of the increasing cost of education in the Philippines.
“Additionally, it recognizes education’s incomparable rate of return to the individual and the nation as a whole.”