Proposed P40-B NTF-ELCAC budget for 2022 an ‘election giveaway’ — Drilon

Published August 2, 2021, 2:00 PM

by Hannah Torregoza 

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Monday, August 2, scored the Duterte administration’s plan to double the budget of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) to P40-billion in the upcoming deliberations of the proposed 2022 national budget saying the amount is clearly an “election giveaway.”

Senate Minority Leader Frankiln Drilon (Czar Dancel/MANILA BULLETIN)

“Let’s not mince words: it’s an election giveaway,” Drilon said in a statement.

“It is an election year budget and it is obvious that the 100-percent increase in the NTF-ELCAC’s budget is designed to woo voters,” the minority leader added.

“That would be unacceptable in the face of growing threats of COVID-19 virus. That would be an injustice to 4.2 million families who experienced hunger and 3.73 million Filipinos who lost jobs to the pandemic in May,” he lamented.

According to Drilon, a source has confirmed that the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) intends to double the budget of the controversial anti-insurgency task force. It’s current budget which stands at P19.2-billion includes more than P16-billion that were distributed to around 820 insurgency-free barangays nationwide.

Drilon said the Commission on Audit (COA) should conduct a special audit on this year’s anti-insurgency fund, noting that some of the “soft projects” under the task force’s Barangay Development Program (BDP) are prone to corruption.

“These soft programs are often the source of corruption as we have seen in the past. The COA knows the history of fertilizer fund scam and the TESDA ghost scholars. This is exactly the kind of system that is prone to corruption,” he said.

“I, therefore, urge COA to immediately conduct a special audit of NTF-ELCAC funds in order to guide Congress in crafting the 2022 national budget and, more important, to prevent corruption,” the lawmaker stressed.

Drilon earlier scored Malacañang for prioritizing funding the NTF-ELCAC rather than using the amount for the much-needed “ayuda” or cash assistance to workers and other sectors that would be affected as the National Capital Region (NCR) and other parts of the country reverts back to an enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).

He also said the amount could have been used to address the country’s growing budget deficit, which already stands at P761-billion in June amid low revenue collection due to the pandemic.