MANILA – The PHP19-billion total budget of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) is being used for the development of over 800 barangays cleared of insurgency, not campaign propaganda, Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Undersecretary Lorraine Marie Badoy said on Sunday.
Badoy, who is also NTF-ELCAC spokesperson, denied allegations made by Bayan Muna Representative and House Deputy Minority Leader Carlos Zarate who claimed that the task force is using its funds to put up tarpaulins and other campaign propaganda of their favored candidates.
“It's a very clear no. None of that is going to campaign. Who's campaigning? There's no campaigning going on. It all goes to the Filipino people who need it the most,” Badoy said in an interview over One News.
Of the PHP19 billion total budget of the NTF-ELCAC, PHP16.5 billion is allotted for the development of over 800 barangays cleared of insurgency.
The Barangay Development Program’s (BDP) core programs and projects for each recipient barangay, which would receive PHP20 million, include a 1-kilometer farm-to-market road worth PHP12 million, classrooms (PHP3 million), water and sanitation systems (PHP2 million), a health station (PHP1.5 million), and livelihood projects (PHP1.5 million).
The PHP16.5-billion BDP budget goes directly to local government units from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).
Badoy said she is no longer surprised over Zarate’s allegations, describing him as “the mouthpiece” of Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founding chair Jose Maria "Joma" Sison.
“Yung mga kasinungalingan ni Carlos Zarate that's expected (The lies of Carlos Zarate, that’s expected),” she said.
Since the BDP’s goal is to prevent “generational poverty” and “ignorance” enabled by the CPP-NPA-NDF, she said it was only natural for Zarate to be unsupportive of the program.
“This will really eradicate this communist insurgency, which, of course Carlos Zarate does not want because he's a member of the CPP-NPA-NDF [Communist-Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front]. It's like, yung mga ipis gusto ba nila ng Baygon? Siyempre ayaw nila 'yan (Do cockroaches like Baygon? Of course they don’t),” she added.
She also denied Zarate’s claim that she destroyed the meaning of good governance by her alleged irresponsible red-tagging.
“I don't understand why. I'm the public official that goes down on the ground and talks to our people. I'm the appointee of a President that believes that the way to end this insurgency is good governance,” she said.
Badoy said the Makabayan bloc, which enabled crimes committed by the CPP-NPA-NDF, should be removed from Congress.
The CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines.
“The Duterte administration stands for good governance. Sila, ang (They in the) Makabayan bloc, they enable the most heinous and most atrocious talaga crimes against the indigenous peoples so it's him, they should be taken out of Congress,” she added.
She, however, expressed confidence that Filipinos knew better than to believe Zarate’s false allegations.
“We expected no less from Carlos Zarate. But you know, the Filipino people are awake so Carlos Zarate sounds like a clown right now,” she said.
In an earlier interview in the same program, Zarate said the NTF-ELCAC’s budget should instead be used to provide necessary assistance to those severely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
"That PHP19-billion allocated to them, mas mabuti pang gagamitin 'yan (it’s better if we use it) to give our people the much-needed ayuda (assistance) and not on red-tagging, not on fake surrenderers, not on tarpaulins announcing the possible run for election by these personalities associated with the NTF-ELCAC,” he said. (PNA)