Esperon to Makabayan bloc: What fund transfers?

By Dempsey Reyes / The Manila Times


NATIONAL Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. on Monday questioned the motive of the Makabayan bloc in accusing the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-Elcac) of receiving millions through illegal fund transfers from various government agencies.


Esperon, also the vice chairman of the task force, zeroed in on women's group Gabriela, who he said received foreign donations in violation of the Constitution.


"Their reaction was misplaced and self-serving," he said in a virtual briefing. "They want to cover some things, especially Gabriela."


Esperon earlier testified before the Commission on Elections about the funds received by Gabriela from the foreign donors. The poll body is hearing a case asking for the disqualification of Gabriela as a party-list.


The official maintained the task force did not receive funds.


"[The NTF-Elcac] is grouped into clusters or in the form of a joint regional or provincial or municipal task force. There are no transfers of funds to the NTF-Elcac. Each agency implements and funds these activities [through] their own funds that are in the General Appropriations Act," he said.


Esperon nevertheless welcomed the move to have the alleged illegal fund transfer probed at the House of Representatives.


Interior Secretary Eduardo Año also confirmed that no funds were transferred to the task force.


He clarified that the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) office in Soccsksargen (South Cotabato, Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and General Santos) region received more than P2 million from the main office for activities of the NTF-Elcac.


"Again, there was no transfer of funds to the NTF-Elcac because the fund in question was for the DILG's Retooled Community Support Program at the barangay (village) level," Año said.

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