Senator Ronald ‘’Bato’’ dela Rosa on Wednesday, August 25, defended the continued funding for the government’s anti-insurgency program through the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).
Based on his personal experience in travelling in Eastern Mindanao, Dela Rosa, a former Philippine National Police (PNP) chief, said the multi-billion-peso program is a “success”.
Dela Rosa, chairman of the Senate public order and dangerous drugs committee, stressed this during a public hearing by the National Defense committee of the Commission on Appointments (CA) on the appointments of three ranking Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) officers.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon had wanted the proposed 2022 P28.1 billion funding of NTF-ECAC be withdrawn and given to social services.
The current NTF-ELCAC budget is P19.2 billion.
Representative Luis A. Ferrer IV, chairman of the CA National Defense committee, supported Dela Rosa by appealing to his House of Representatives colleagues not to support moves to defund NTF-ELCAC.
Aside from running after insurgents, elements of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and PNP act as teachers, engineers, doctors and dentists in far-flung areas, Ferrer said.
if there are reductions in the NTF-ELCAC funding, these should be funneled to other government agencies that would continue a whole of nation approach to the communist insurgency, Ferrer said.
Asked by Dela Rosa what would happen should NTF-ELCAC be defunded, Centino said the root causes would remain and the problems would continue to exist.
Meanwhile, the CA confirmed the appointment of Major General Andres C. Centino, Philippine Army (PA) commanding general, as Lieutenant General.
Centino is also the chairman of the NTF technical working group.
Also confirmed during the CA plenary session presided by Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III, concurrent CA chairman, were Navy Captain Ruben B. Fajardo as Commodore, and Colonel Raul P. Villsnueva as Brigadier General.
During the plenary session, the CA also approved the election of Senator Francis ‘’Kiko’’ Pangilinan as a CA member, vice Senator Risa Hontiveros, until June 30, 2022.