Press Release
September 2, 2016

'Dagdag pulis, baril,' new patrol cars better than new Alsa Masa

Instead of seeking inspiration from defunct vigilantes, government should prioritize the hiring of more policemen and buying them enough equipment to combat crime and maintain peace in communities, Senate Minority Leader Ralph Recto said.

Recto said the latest official data from Malacañang shows that the Philippine National Police (PNP) will still have 22,046 vacant positions by the end of 2017, belying reports that the undermanned PNP will step up recruitment to put more boots on the ground.

And instead of the expected fund augmentation for equipment and buildings, Recto said PNP's capital outlays budget for 2017 has in fact been slashed by almost P500 million, or to P3.37 billion, from P3.82 billion this year.

"If we really want to give the policemen the help they deserve, then we should give all the equipment they need. Organizing better logistics for them takes precedence over the organization of volunteer groups," he said.

Recto made the call following the disclosure in the House by the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) that it is planning to revive "non-violent" Alsa Masa-type groups that will gather intelligence on the drug trade in their barangays.

While Recto concedes that there is a need to engage the citizenry in the war against drugs, he stressed that "formal institutions and government agencies must be strengthened first."

"More police with more cars, more guns and more communication equipment. Better-equipped barangay tanods. More CCTV cameras and better lighted streets. And a functioning and free 911 system. Ito ang mga dapat unahin," Recto said.

"Without these, then how can citizens' complaints be acted upon immediately?" Recto asked, referring to the DILG justification that volunteer groups can forward their reports to the police for proper action.

Although the PNP's 2017 proposed budget will jump by 25 percent, to P110.4 billion from this year's P88.7 billion, or by an "impressive" P21.7 billion, "there are areas which I think can stand improvement," Recto said.

"For example, if we are creating 10,000 new police positions, which means our authorized troop ceiling will be increased to 184,000, then why just target a fill up rate of 162,364, which leaves a vacancy of 22,046?"

Recto was referring to the hike in the authorized number of PNP positions from the present 174,410 to next year's 184,410 but not all of which will be filled.

"Why not aspire for a higher target? Why only fill one in three vacant positions? Ano yung kinks sa recruitment? Kung, halimbawa, kulang ng training areas, baka pwede hiramin ang sa military?" he said.

He explained that filling the projected vacancies will result in each of the 1,489 towns getting an additional 15 police officers.

Recto said he welcomes the P3.3 billion allocation for capital outlays for 2017 but this is about half a billion below what is authorized this year.

"It's good that the transportation equipment outlay for new patrol cars will be increased from P65 million to P525 million, pero kulang pa rin ito, kasi sa mga bayan na lang we lack 1,500 na kaagad," he said.

He said next year's outlay should wipe out the minimum backlog of 16,140 side arms, "because 'gunless' policemen cannot stop crimes."

In his testimony before the Senate, PNP Director General Ronald de la Rosa, upon questioning by Recto, gave a higher estimate of equipment lack, saying they lack "18,000 short firearms, 10,000 long firearms, and 16,356 vehicles."

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