MANILA – By slashing the budget of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) by PHP10.8 billion, lawmakers have shown that they are not true public servants.
NTF-ELCAC spokesperson for Sectoral Concerns Lorraine Marie Badoy made the statement after Congress set the 2022 budget of the NTF-ELCAC at PHP17.1 billion that is PHP10.8 billion lower compared to the PHP28.1 billion proposed by Malacañang.
Badoy, also Undersecretary of the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO), said slashing the NTF-ELCAC budget would adversely affect the government’s Barangay Development Program (BDP) which aims to provide insurgency-cleared villages funds for projects that would improve their quality of life.
“Ikinalulungkot ng NTF-ELCAC ang walang pusong pag-tapyas ng bicameral committee ng budget ng task force na sana ay magbibigay serbisyo sa 1,406 na pinakamahihirap na mga cleared barangay sa buong Pilipinas (NTF-ELCAC regrets the bicameral committee's ruthless slashing of the task force's budget that would have provided services to the 1,406 poorest cleared barangays in the Philippines),” she said in a press statement.
She slammed lawmakers for being “deaf” to the appeals made by President Rodrigo Duterte and local chief executives to reconsider their decision to slash the NTF-ELCAC budget.
“Imbes na dinggin nila ang pagsusumamo ng mga local chief executives na iisa ang mensahe na huwag tapyasan ang pondo na ito na magbibigay ng farm-to-market roads, health centers, eskwelahan, nagbingi-bingihan ang bicameral committee na halos kalahati ang tinanggal sa budget ng NTF-ELCAC (Instead of listening to the pleas of local chief executives that share the same sentiment not to cut the fund that will provide farm-to-market roads, health centers, schools, the bicameral committee is deaf and slashed almost half of the budget of NTF-ELCAC),” she said.
“Ikinibit-balikat nila ang paghingi sa kanila ng ating Pangulo na ibalik sa 28 billion ang natapyasang pondo (They just shrugged when our President asked them to return to the PHP28 billion the cut budget),” she added.
Badoy said the lawmakers have only proved that they cannot be trusted for denying communities "freed" from the influence of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) from receiving much-needed assistance.
“Maliwanag lamang na ipinakita ng mga ito na hindi sila totoong lingkod-bayan at nakalimutan na nila na hindi nila pera ang pondo na yon kundi pera ng bayan at ang serbisyo na ipinagkakait nila ay hindi tulong kundi obligasyon ng gobyerno sa ating mamamayan- lalong lalo na ang hindi pa nakaranas ng kalinga ng gobyerno matagal na panahon na ang nagdaan (They have clearly shown that they are not true public servants and they have forgotten that the fund is not their money but the people's money and the service they are denying is not help but the government's obligation to our people- especially the one who has not experienced government protection a long time ago),” she said.
She enjoined the public to heed Duterte’s call to replace lawmakers who have cut the NTF-ELCAC’s budget by PHP10.8 billion.
“Nabigyan na tayo ng direksyon ng ating Pangulo: palitan na natin ang mga yan sa darating na halalan (We have been given the direction of our President: let's replace them in the coming election),” Badoy said.
“Napapanahon nang maturuan ng leksyon ang mga aroganteng nakalimot na ang kapangyarihang hawak nila ay galing sa taongbayan na taongbayan din ang syang babawi (It is time to teach a lesson to these arrogant lawmakers who have forgotten that the power they hold comes from the people who will also take that power back),” she added.
On December 2, Duterte said the slashed budget of the NTF-ELCAC should be restored and called on voters to replace senators who cut the agency's budget.
“Now Congress, wa ko kasabot ani (I don’t understand it). Puwede ba palitan ninyo ‘yung mga senador? Wala talaga eh. Sila ‘yung naga… Itong original na --- I think it was PHP19 billion --- [28?] Tapos oo, bilyon-bilyon. Tapos ito gituli nila. Wala na. So kailangan ma-restore ‘yan (Can we just replace the senators? I think the original was 19 billion and they cut if. So it needs to be restored),” Duterte said in a speech in Zamboanga City.
Only the Reds happy
Meanwhile, Badoy blamed senators for supposedly “conspiring” with members of the CPP-NPA-NDF with their decision to cut the NTF-ELCAC’s budget.
“Tumagal ang salot na ito ng ganito katagal hindi lamang dahil sa CPP-NPA-NDF kundi dahil sa mga politiko na nakikuntsyaba sa kanila (This plague lasted for so long not only because of the CPP-NPA-NDF but also because of the politicians who were conspiring with them),” she said.
While communities have to bear the brunt of the NTF-ELCAC budget slash, she said this move will only make communist rebels happy.
“Iisa lang ang sumaya at nanalo dito at ito ang mga berdugong nagdulot ng hirap at pighati sa nagdaang 52 years: ang komunistang teroristang CPP NPA NDF (Only one group is happy and a winner here and these are the butchers who have caused hardship and grief in the past 52 years: the communist terrorist CPP NPA NDF),” she said.
Badoy said the CPP-NPA-NDF might as well thank the solons for giving them a chance to instill fear by sowing terror among civilians.
“Dapat magpasalamat ang mga berdugong ito sa mga Senador at Kongresistang nagbigay sa kanila ng panibagong lakas habang nagbigay ng malaking lungkot at pangamba sa pinakamahihirap sa atin (These butchers should be grateful to the Senators and Congressmen who gave them renewed strength while giving great sorrow and fear to the poorest of us),” she added.
Despite the budget cut, Badoy assured that the NTF-ELCAC will continue its mandate of bringing development closer to the conflict-free communities by reintegrating former rebels into the society and providing them means to make a living and overcome poverty.
“Para sa NTF-ELCAC, tuloy ang laban para sa ating mahal na Bayan at kami ay nagpapasalamat sa inyo na mga kababayan namin dahil ramdam namin na kasama na namin kayo sa laban na ito (For NTF ELCAC, the fight continues for our dear people and we thank you, our countrymen, because we feel that we are with you in this battle),” she said. (PNA)