DILG to hire more cops, frowns on arming barangay watchmenBy Leila B. Salaverria
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines–The government intends to hire more police personnel, firefighters and jail guards in 2013 in order to improve crime fighting and to better secure peace and order, but Executive Secretary and acting Interior and Local Government OIC Paquito Ochoa balked at suggestions from lawmakers to arm barangay tanod (watchmen).
Ochoa, who defended the Department of the Interior and Local Government’s P90.55-billion budget before the House appropriations committee on Tuesday, said the barangay or village watchmen were not yet sufficiently trained to handle guns.
“We have yet to train them and qualify them to become eligible to hold firearms,” he said.
The village watchmen in the meantime would remain in their role of assisting police officials, he said.
Ochoa also said more policemen are coming next year. The P67-billion budget of the Philippine National Police under the DILG would be used to enhance police visibility and improve its crime prevention and fighting capability.
The PNP would hire 3,000 new police officers 1 in 2013, as well as build 24 new police stations and procure more firearms.
But it’s not only the PNP that the DILG is beefing up.
Ochoa said the DILG would improve the capacity of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology to secure jail facilities and ensure the human treatment of inmates.
He said the BJMP would hire 500 new jail officers to improve the ratio of officers to the inmates they guard and escort. This is also intended to curb jail escapes, he added.
The Bureau of Fire Protection would also get 500 new jail officers to improve the firefighter to population ratio.
Ochoa said the firefighters would be a lot safer as they go about their job because the BFP would procure 800 sets of personal protective equipment and self-contained breathing apparatuses.
Meanwhile, the budget of the Office of the President, which Ochoa was supposed to defend, was passed by the appropriations committee in a few minutes, without even a single member raising a question about it.
Shortly after the committee meeting began, Cebu Rep. Eduardo Gullas moved that the consideration of the Office of the President’s P2.7-billion budget be terminated in deference to a co-equal branch of government.
Gullas’ motion was promptly seconded by Occidental Mindoro Rep. Amelita Villarosa, and nobody posed any objection.
The Office of the President’s budget was P111 million higher than the previous year’s budget, and the increase accounted for the salary adjustments under the salary standardization law. The increase would also be allotted for the repairs, rehabilitation, and improvement of buildings and facilities in Malacañang.
Among those that would be repaired are the presidential residences outside Malacañang Complex, particularly the Mansion House in Baguio City; Malacañang Park in Nagtahan, Manila; and the Malacañang sa Sugbu in Cebu City.