Dela Rosa urges colleagues not to touch P28-B NTF budget for 2022

Published November 11, 2021, 2:21 PM

by Mario Casayuran

The proposed P28 billion for Barangay Development Fund under the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) is not an election budget but a game changer in the decades-long communist insurgency.

Senator Ronald ‘’Bato’’ dela Rosa, a former Philippine National Police (PNP) chief under the Duterrte administration, advised his colleagues not to touch the P28 billion lest people might think that the Senate is ‘’pro-NPA.’’

NPA stands for New People’s Philippines.

The NPA will be the victor if Congress slashes the proposed P28 billion budget to just P4 billion, dela Rosa pointed out.

Dela Rosa cited several reasons why a proposal during the current Senate debate on the P5 trillion national budget to reduce NTF-ELCAC’s proposed P28 billion budget to just P4 billion is not logical.

The P28 billion is definitely not for politicking, he stressed.

To stress his point, dela Rosa said President Duterte and his Partido Demokratikong Pilipino (PDP)-Laban party did not even give him a single peso when he successfully ran for the Senate in 2019.

Senate President Vicente C. Sotto and Senator Juan Edgardo ‘’Sonny’’ M. Angara, chairman of the Senate Finance committee, said they agree with dela Rosa that the Barangay Development Program under the supervision of NTF-ELCAC would hopefully win the hearts and minds of people under the yoke of insurgents.

But they have to cut the budget because NTF-ELCAC has not submitted to the Angara committee its report on how the P16.4 billion Barangay Development Fund was spent.

Before the Angara committee agreed to slash the proposed P28 billion for NTF-ELCAC, senators learned that only 26 out of the 2,318 projects were completed.

Angara said his committee agreed to the budget slash last week and that the NTF-ELCAC progress report was submitted only last Monday while the committee recommendation for signature of other senators was being routed for signature.

It is a good program but how it was spent must be justified, Angara stressed.

In 2020, the NTF-ELCAC budget was P1 billion. This rose to P19.3 billion in 2021.

The report received by the Angara committee this Monday showed that 26 projects had been completed while 900 are in pre-procurement stages, 700 being processed and 500 are on-going.

Dela Rosa said the proposed P28 billion would seek to solve social injustices, particularly in insurgency-ridden areas, with the NTF-ELCAC using the fund for roads, potable water, health centers and electricity.

He said people in far-flung areas would see the P28 billion as a ‘’grand prize’’ and would give them the freedom from insurgency.

The NTF-ELCAC budget would hopefully win people’s hearts and mind, and not with arms and knives, he added.

If social injustice is not addressed, the insurgency problem would persists even if you kill the last insurgent, he explained.