MANILA – The National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) on Tuesday welcomed the lawmakers' decision to restore its PHP10 billion budget for 2023, citing that it is crucial in sustaining the fight against communist insurgency.

"It's very crucial kasi pag hindi natin ifulfill yung mga sinasabi nating proyekto ng gobyerno dun sa tinatawag nating influence barangays, gagamitin ito ng mga kalaban natin (It is very crucial as if the government failed to fund projects it promise to provide influenced barangays, our enemies would use it as a opportunity to hit back at the government)," NTF-ELCAC director for stakeholders engagement, Col. Stephen Cabanlet, told reporters.

He added that the New People's Army (NPA) would likely taunt surrenderers by telling them that their efforts to go back to mainstream society are for naught as the government cannot live up to its promises.

"Sasabihin nila nag-surrender kayo sinabi ninyo na yung gobyerno ninyo ay bibigyan kayo ng kalsada eh wala naman kayong kalsada eh diba, maging weapon ulit nila yan sa mga kwento nila (They will probably say that well you surrender because the government promised to give you roads, and yet you have no roads yet. They will be using that incident as a weapon in their stories (against the government)," Cabanlet pointed out.

He also clarified that most of these funds will be used for developmental projects like the setting up of water and electrical systems and livelihood in priority barangays and influence which means that the military has already cleared the NPA members out of these areas.

Military troops are also conducting community service and immersing themselves in these areas, Cabanlet said.

He added that this is important as it allows troops to determine the needs of these villages. (PNA)