Buy drones for practical reasons, Rep. Calalang says

 

By Rose de la Cruz

 

Rep. Ciriaco Calalang of the Kabayan partylist advised the uniformed and regulatory agencies to use drones at a larger scale and include a “drone program” in the 2019 proposed budgets which are more practical that the capital-intensive ships, jets and submarines for surveillance purposes.

 

“Ships, jets, helicopters, and submarines cost hundreds of millions of pesos and even billions of pesos to buy from foreign suppliers, but unmanned drones would cost only a fraction of price tags of their much larger counterparts. Some drones could probably even be made locally—further cutting down the costs,” he said.

 

To modernize and significantly boost the capabilities of the police, coast guard, military, and a few other government agencies, he asked the Departments of the Interior and Local Government, National Defense and Transportation and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency to submit to Congress their respective multi-year budget proposals and accompanying documents for the purchase, operation, and maintenance of drones for combat, intelligence, and law enforcement operations.

                                                                              

“I hope the budgets for the drones can be included in the 2019 national budget President Rodrigo Roa Duterte will submit to Congress in July 2018. Preparations and detailed work on the 2019 budget are underway. There is time for the various government agencies to work on this with their technical experts, budget officers, and consultants,” he said.

 

He suggested that if there are urgent needs for drones this year that cannot wait for the 2019 budget, probably the intelligence funds can be used as funding sources for some purchases and use of drones.

 

Instead of flying helicopters, the PNP can deploy drones to serve as eye in the sky against lawless elements—syndicates and street criminals—to keep our neighborhoods safe and gather evidence needed to secure convictions.  Drones can also augment the capabilities of the PNP Maritime Group, he added.

 

PDEA drones that can fly day or night would be the new weapons against drug lords, traffickers, and dealers.

 

With a small fleet of drones that can fly and dive underwater, our military outposts in the West Philippine Sea, Western Luzon, Palawan, and Eastern Luzon can patrol our territorial and EEZ waters, Calalang emphasized.

 

The DOTr, which oversees the Philippine Coast Guard and land transport agencies, can make use of drones to catch smugglers, pirates, and drug traffickers, as well as address traffic jams and monitoring implementation of big-ticket transport projects.

 

Other government agencies can also have uses for drones. For example, the DENR would need drones to inspect mining and logging operations and to monitor the condition of our forests, coasts, and protected areas.

 

The NDRRMC and OCD would need drones to conduct damage assessments, survey hazard areas, and inspect evacuation sites. The DPWH would have uses for drones, especially for the monitoring and inspection of roads and bridges being built and already built, he concluded.

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