De Lima lauds Senate move to realign NTF-ELCAC funds to pandemic response programs


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Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima backed moves by her Senate colleagues to realign the funds of Mr. Duterte’s controversial anti-insurgency task force to pandemic response programs.

De Lima, a social justice and human rights champion, said the 86% budget cut for the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) is reasonable and just considering that it has only been used by the administration to red-tag critics and instill fear among the populace.

“Makatarungan lamang na ibalik sa mamamayan ang bilyong pondo ng Task Force na ginagamit lang upang lalong maghasik ng lagim sa gitna ng krisis. The government has been so obsessed with funding its so-called ‘anti-insurgency’ program at the expense of our survival amid the pandemic,” she said in her Dispatch from Crame No. 1173.

Last Nov. 9, Sen. Sonny Angara, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance, announced that the Senate slashed the proposed funding for the controversial NTF-ELCAC by as much as P24 billion in the 2022 proposed spending measure.

Reportedly, the reduction in the NTF-ELCAC budget was borne out of questions of alleged misuse of its P19.33 billion funding in 2021, noting that Senators took away the bulk of the NTF-ELCAC’s 2022 budget and realigned the funds to crucial pandemic response programs.

Part of the realigned funds went to the compensation of health workers, including their special risk allowance that was not programmed in the House version of the 2022 budget.

If it were only up to her, the lady Senator from Bicol said that she would not have given a single centavo to fund NTF-ELCAC.

Kung ako ang tatanungin, the Task Force’s budget should be brought to zero. Napupunta lang naman sa red-tagging at witchhunt. Defund the NTF-ELCAC and realign its budget to the pandemic response, and social amelioration programs, such as the 4Ps,” she said.

Ni isang kusing ay hindi dapat ipagkaloob sa isang ahensyang sa halip na magtaguyod ng kaayusan at kapayapaan sa mga komunidad, ay siya pang nagiging kasangkapan sa paglaganap ng kultura ng takot at dahas, at pasimuno pa ng mga paratang na walang batayan,” she added.

In August, De Lima backed Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon’s call for the Commission on Audit (CoA) to conduct a special audit of the funds given to the government’s anti-communist insurgency task force following Malacañang’s reported plan to double its funding to P40 billion in the 2022 National Budget. (30)

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