Members of the House Committee on Public Order and Safety are pushing for a more viable budget source to fund the proposed Department of Public Safety so it can effectively implement its tasks to improve the capability of local government units (LGUs) to meet the demand for greater safety and security, better local traffic management, and enhanced disaster preparedness and response.
Members of the committee chaired by Rep. Romeo M. Acop (2nd District, Antipolo) discussed the funding component for the proposed Department of Public Safety (DPS) during the panel’s initial deliberation of House Bill 6 or the proposed “Public Safety Act” authored by Speaker Pantaleon D. Alvarez, Majority Leader Rodolfo C. Fariñas, Minority Leader Danilo E. Suarez, Deputy Speakers Rolando G. Andaya, Jr. and Raneo E. Abu, Reps. Karlo Alexei B. Nograles, Rodel M. Batocabe, Michael John R. Duavit, Carlos O. Cojuangco, Elisa T. Kho and Benhur L. Salimbangon.
The bill provides for the creation of a DPS in every province, city and municipality to be under the direct control and supervision of the provincial governor, city or municipal mayor. The DPS will implement public order and safety laws and ordinances, help reduce vehicular traffic congestion and address the effects of man-made and natural disasters.
Lawmakers consider as rather contentious Section 5 of the bill titled Funding which provides “the amount necessary for the initial implementation of the Act shall be charged against the current appropriations of LGUs. Thereafter, such sum as may be necessary for continued implementation shall be included in the annual budget of the LGUs.”
The League of the Provinces represented by its Executive Director Sandy Paredes said that although they fully support the bill, their only apprehension is the funding of the establishment of the new department.
Deputy Speaker Gwendolyn Garcia, former governor of Cebu, said the funding proposal for the DPS will surely affect the budget of each LGU.
“This is exactly what I expected to hear from the local governments. Perhaps, a proper amendment could be done particularly of Section 5 of the bill which is about the DPS funding. The DPS that we will be creating could be passed if we can consider using the calamity funds of each LGU since the funding cannot be a continuing appropriation,” said Garcia.
Rep. Manuel Jose M. Dalipe (2nd District, Zamboanga City) proposed that HB 6 should also be tackled in the Committee on Local Government since the creation of the new department will amend the provisions of the Local Government Code and affect the budget of LGUs. “If this will become a law, it will be added in the Local Government Code. Moreover, if there is a new department, it would also entail or create new plantilla positions that would affect the local government’s funds,” said Dalipe.
Among the DPS powers and functions provided in the bill are :Prepare, integrate, coordinate, supervise and control all plans, programs, projects and activities of the local government relative to the promotion and maintenance of peace and order and the protection of life, liberty and property; Secure the general public and maintain public order in conjunction with the police and other national law enforcement agencies; Augment auxiliary traffic services and support other agencies tasked to enforce traffic management; Issue temporary terminal permits to public utility vehicles and manage public utility vehicle terminals; Monitor and supervise private security agencies and security guards and issue their security clearances and business or work permits; Issue traffic clearance certificates to business establishments; Clear sidewalks, public parks and other public areas of obstructions; and Organize plans for and undertake evacuation, rescue and relief operations in times of disasters, calamities and civil disturbances.
Meanwhile, the committee also tackled House Bills 176, 1348 and 3837, aiming to provide stiffer penalties for illegal discharge of firearms. The bills also seek to introduce a comprehensive definition of the crime defined under Article 254 of the Revised Penal Code or the “Unlawful Use of Firearms.”
The Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) endorsed the bills as they will help the law enforcement agencies in the implementation of laws and deter further commissions of crime.