Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Philippine gov't allocates P300 million for policemen’s housing

By GENALYN D. KABILING
The Manila Bulletin
http://www.mb.com.ph/MAIN20090127146693.html

President Arroyo yesterday announced a P300-million housing program for members of the police force in appreciation of their hard work and courage in keeping peace and order in the country.

Apart from providing decent homes for the men and women of the Philippine National Police (PNP), the President also ordered the upgrading of police clinics into small hospitals, establishment of more drug stores near police camps, among other benefits for the police force which, she said, has regained public trust.

"Over the weekend, I talked to Budget Secretary Rolando Andaya Jr. to allocate R300 million for police housing. And the Secretary of Interior and Local Government Ronaldo Puno will confirm to you that I instructed him to have the bidding for the whole amount done in the next few days," she said during the 18th anniversary rites of the PNP in Camp Crame, Quezon City.

Using revenues earned from fiscal reforms, the President said her government has already built housing units for policemen at Camp Bagong Diwa in Bicutan, Camp Makabulos in Tarlac, Camp Castañeda in Silang, Cavite, and Camp Capistrano in Cagayan de Oro City. "There are also 400 hectares reserved for them in San Miguel, Bulacan," she added.

The R300-million fund is part of the P1.7-billion requested by the police to bankroll the construction of housing projects for 67,400 police personnel who do not have their own houses.

The President also directed Puno and Health Secretary Francisco Duque III to improve the facilities of police clinics in the country’s poorest provinces, including the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao, Cordillera Administrative Region, and Caraga region.

She asked Puno to establish more "Botika sa Barangay" inside and near police camps so members of the police force are able to buy low-cost medicines.

The government drug stores, the President said, should be set up in Tawi- Tawi, Zamboanga del Norte, Maguindanao, Apayao, Surigao del Norte, Dinagat Islands, Lanao del Sur, Northern Samar, Masbate, Abra, Misamis Occidental, Agusan del Sur, Kalinga, Surigao de Sur which have the "biggest poor population and most hungry population."€

In giving the package of benefits, the President thanked members of the police force for their courage and dedication to duty in manning stations, responding calls for help, and keeping order in communities.

Mrs. Arroyo also commended the police for erasing perceptions of doubt and fear and regaining public trust, citing a survey showing the PNP is the government’s 6th best performing agency.

She praised the police for decreased crime incidence, particularly street crimes, bank robbery, kidnapping, and carnapping, while upholding human rights and following operational procedures.

The President noted that the government has stretched funds to implement programs to uplift the plight of policemen, citing salary increases, and access to better health care. She said government resources were set aside to carry out the PNP modernization, including purchasing equipment and hiring of 12,000 police recruits last year.

This year, the President said she expects the police to further improve their service to the public and continue to maintain peace and order.

With the shift of peace efforts to authentic dialogues with communities, she said the police must activate and strengthen the local peace and order councils that will consolidate and monitor peace and order plans in various communities.

"Our policemen and women have been valuable contributors to the peace in Mindanao and to the peace all over the country--in the countryside, in the streets," she said.

Mrs. Arroyo said she has high expectations for 2009 as a comeback year for peace and progress in the conflict-torn region with former PNP chief Director General Avelino Razon Jr as the new presidential peace adviser.

She said government peace negotiators have been directed to touch base with Malaysian facilitators as well as with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front for the resumption of peace talks.

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