A P10-billion budget has been proposed to fund the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict’s (NTF-ELCAC) Barangay Development Program under the 2023 National Expenditure Program (NEP).
The Department of Budget and Management (DBM), in its briefing at the House of Representatives on Monday, Aug. 22, described their budget for "supporting local governments” as a spending priority. For this particular spending priority, about P28.9-billion was proposed, P10 billion of which was listed under the item, “support to the Barangay Development Program of the NTF-ELCAC.”
As per DBM Secretary Amenah Pangandaman, the 2022 enacted budget for the same item is P5.62 billion, meaning the 2023 NEP budget for the program is almost twice the amount.
On the same day, the DBM turned over the 2023 NEP to the House of Representatives.
However, Pangandaman clarified that the NTF-ELCAC had not sent a specific distribution of the proposed budget and noted that it would be deliberated on “subject to guidelines that we will prepare with the DILG (Department of Interior and Local Government) and the National Security ”
The NTF-ELCAC is tasked with countering the communist rebellion in the Philippines. As a government agency, it has drawn controversy and notoriety due to its penchant for red-tagging opposition figures and activists.
The agency’s Barangay Development Program is geared toward establishing socioeconomic projects in order to achieve development in formerly conflict-ridden communities.
As for other budget allocations under the “supporting local governments” item, the DBM proposed P13.9 billion for the growth equity fund and P5 billion for financial assistance to Local Government Units (LGUs), thus hitting the aforementioned total of P28.9-billion.
The growth equity fund is meant to support projects and programs of 4th (P25,000,000-P35,000,000 average annual income), 5th (P15,000,000-P25,000,000), and 6th (below P15,000,000)-class municipalities in order to help them catch up to higher-classed locales, Pangandaman explained.