Solons aware NTF-ELCAC’s policies differ from Parlade’s remarks
Updated: May 4
By Azer Parrocha / Philippine News Agency
MANILA – Malacañang on Monday reminded lawmakers seeking to defund the government’s anti-insurgency task force that remarks made by its spokesperson should not be enough basis to disregard the importance of programs that aim to develop areas freed from clutches of communist terrorist groups (CTGs).
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque came to the defense of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict’s (NTF-ELCAC) Barangay Development Program (BDP) after some solons sought to withdraw the task force’s funding over alleged red-tagging of community pantry organizers.
Of the PHP19 billion total budget of the NTF-ELCAC, PHP16.5 billion is allotted to the BDP, a program which aims to bring development to former conflict-prone communities.
“Ating panawagan sa ating mga policy makers, alam naman po nila na ang policy ay may pakakaiba dun sa mga nagpapatupad ng policy at hindi naman dahilan para isang tao na tagapagsalita ay maging dahilan para mabalewala ang isang polisiya (Our appeal to policy makers, they know that policies being implemented differ from the people implementing the policies and a spokesperson should not be a reason to disregard a policy),” Roque said in a virtual press briefing.
Roque noted that National Security Adviser (NSA) Hermogenes Esperon has already talked to NTF-ELCAC spokespersons Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Undersecretary Lorraine Badoy and Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr. to stop making statements about community pantries.
Esperon, who is also the NTF-ELCAC vice chair, said Badoy and Parlade will cease from speaking about community pantries to avoid sowing confusion regarding the pantry initiative.
“Nakausap ko na rin si Secretary Esperon at sinabi naman niya sa akin na pinagsabihan na niya parehong si General Parlade at saka si USec. Badoy na maging mas mahinahon at mas maingat sa mga binibitawang salita (I spoke to Secretary Esperon and he told me that he told off both General Parlade and USec. Badoy to be more careful in making statements),” Roque said.
He shrugged off the statement made by Senator Panfilo "Ping" Lacson that Congress could defund the NTF-ELCAC next year if the Department of National Defense (DND) ignores the recommendation to remove Parlade as spokesperson.
Lacson said senators were dismayed that the DND had not acted on the recommendation prepared by Lacson’s committee on national defense and security which called for the removal of Parlade.
“‘Yan naman po ay personal na opinyon ni Senator Lacson at alam naman natin ang proseso ng lawmaking. Kinakailangan magkaroon talaga ‘yan ng consensus. Malayo pa yung tatahakin niyan kung talagang made-defund po ‘yan (That is the personal opinion of Senator Lacson and we know the process of lawmaking. There should be a consensus. It would be a long process before the task force is defunded),” Roque said.
He also reiterated Palace support for the emergence of community pantries across the country, saying it exemplifies “the best of the Filipino in the worst of times.”
“Wini-welcome natin itong bayanihan ng community pantries at hinihingi natin sa lahat ng opisyales maging mas maingat sa kanilang mga sinasabi (We welcome bayanihan from community pantries and ask officials to be more cautious in what they are saying), he added.
Meanwhile, he urged community pantry organizers to coordinate with local governments to ensure the proper implementation of minimum health standards.
“Kinakailangan sumunod din sa minimum health standards at kasama po diyan iyong prohibition sa mass gathering dahil kapag tayo po’y nagkumpul-kumpulan, iyan po ang pinaka-sure na pamamaraan para kumalat ang Covid (We need to follow minimum health standards which include the prohibition of mass gathering because if we gather together, that is a sure way of spreading Covid-19),” he said. (PNA)