De Lima backs calls for a special audit of NTF-ELCAC funds

Published August 5, 2021, 2:59 PM

by Hannah Torregoza 

Opposition Senator Leila de Lima on Thursday expressed her support to Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon’s call for the Commission on Audit (COA) to conduct a special audit of the funds allocated to the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).

De Lima said a special audit on the funds given to the government’s anti-communist insurgency task force is a necessity given Malacañang’s reported plan to double its funding to P40-billion in the 2022 national budget.

“(That) is plain and simple budget predation by the Duterte regime to be used as a campaign war chest in the coming 2022 national elections,” De Lima said in a statement.

“I join Sen. Frank Drilon’s call for a special audit on the budget spending of the notorious NTF-ELCAC, and the shameless move of Malacañang to further allocate an enormous P40-billion worth of funds for its 2022 budget, in spite of the worst health crisis and deep budget deficit that the nation is facing,” she stressed.

Drilon earlier disclosed that sources from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) bared plans by the government to increase the NTF-ELCAC’s budget to as much as P40-billion next year.

The Senate minority chief has vowed to oppose any additional funding for the anti-insurgency task force, saying he believes doubling the amount would be tantamount to an “election giveaway.”

“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,” Drilon had said.

De Lima said she agrees with the opposition stalwart, saying the program “should be thrown in Duterte’s wastebasket.”

Ultimately, she said these funds belong to Filipinos and should be used to help them survive the pandemic.

“The COA itself has seen so many red flags in the use of the NTF-ELCAC funds. The program itself has done nothing good but to sow terror and fear in the public because they just randomly accuse anyone of being a communist,” the detained senator pointed out.