MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte’s efforts to put an end to communism would only go to waste if the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) would only receive a PHP4 billion budget in 2022, Senator Christopher Lawrence Go said.
Go urged his fellow senators to reconsider their decision to cut the NTF-ELCAC’s proposed 2022 funding from PHP28.12 billion to PHP4 billion.
He expressed opposition to the huge budget cut, saying such a move would squander the Duterte government’s initiatives to stop insurgency to maintain peace and order in the country.
“Kaya naman po nananawagan ako sa aking mga kasamahan sa Senado na kung maaari ay ibalik ang budget ng NTF-ELCAC para naman hindi masayang ang pinaghirapan ni Pangulong Duterte sa pagbigay sa atin ang ligtas at komportableng pamumuhay (I am urging my colleagues at the Senate to retain the NTF-ELCAC’s proposed budget, so President Duterte’s efforts to provide us a safe and comfortable life would not go to waste),” Go said in a press statement released on Friday.
The executive branch, under the proposed National Expenditure Program, has allocated about PHP28.12 billion for the NTF-ELCAC in 2022.
The proposed funding, which was higher than the PHP19 billion the NTF-ELCAC received this year, was adopted by the House of Representatives despite calls to defund the anti-insurgency task force.
However, Senator Juan Edgardo Angara, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Finance, announced Tuesday that the allocation for the NTF-ELCAC under the latest version of the budget spending bill is now down to PHP4 billion.
Go said the latest move to cut the NTF-ELCAC’s proposed 2022 budget would derail government efforts to hasten development in insurgency-cleared areas.
“Ako po ay lubos na naniniwala sa NTF-ELCAC at sa anti-insurgency campaign nito (I believe in NTF-ELCAC and its anti-insurgency campaign). Now is not the right time to make such a drastic move, considering that the government’s campaign to end the armed conflict is gaining momentum,” he said.
Defending the NTF-ELCAC, Go said he is witness to its perseverance to address insurgency problems in the country, as well as to help former rebels who want to reintegrate into mainstream society.
“Bukod dito, nakakatulong din ang programang ito sa pagpondo ng barangay development lalo na sa mga malalayong lugar, upang hikayatin ang ating mga kababayan na huwag mamundok (Apart from that, the program to fund the village development projects, especially in remote areas, helps convince our fellow countrymen not to join the rebels in the mountains),” he said.
The NTF-ELCAC’s Barangay Development Program (BDP) aims to bring development to former conflict-prone communities.
The BDP is a package of socio-economic development programs that include farm-to-market roads, livelihood, irrigation, and health stations.
A total of 1,406 villages nationwide are expected to benefit from the BDP next year. They are set to receive PHP20 million each to fund their anti-insurgency projects. (PNA)