Lacson vows fine-toothed comb scrutiny of NTF-ELCAC's P19-B budget

Published August 5, 2021, 2:47 PM

by Mario Casayuran

The 2021 P19 billion budget for the National Task Force-End to Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) will be scrutinized with a fine-toothed comb when the Senate conducts budget hearings for the 2022 national budget.

This was stressed by Senator Panfilo M. Lacson, chairman of the Senate National Defense and Security committee, following reports that a Philippine National Police (PNP) General used a PNP anti-insurgency fund transferred by NTF-ELCAC for a barangay census for the coming 2022 elections.

Based on information funneled to Lacson, this general is going around directing local police chiefs to list down the names and contact numbers of at least 30 percent of the population in each barangay.

Lacson, primed as a presidential candidate in the 2022 elections, said that ‘’when we deliberate on the NTF-ELCAC budget for 2022, as the principal sponsor of their budget in the Senate, I will lead the efforts to scrutinize how they utilized their 2021 appropriations which should be limited to the itemized list of development projects approved by Congress under the 2021 GAA (General Appropriations Act or national budget).’’

‘’I do not recall an item for the purpose which PNP had reportedly utilized the same. We would like to hear from the PNP leadership if such action was authorized or not,’’ Lacson added.

‘’If there was clear misuse, I will join Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon’s call to scrap the reported P40 billion proposed appropriations (for NTF-ELCAC) under the 2022 NEP (National Expenditure Program) and even request the Office of the Ombudsman to conduct a motu propio investigation,’’ he emphasized.

Earlier, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. explained that the bulk of the P19 billion NTF-ELCAC budget went to its Barangay Development Program.