NTF-ELCAC funds for dev’t projects: Roque

By Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos / Philippine News Agency

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque (Screengrab from RTVM)

MANILA – The proposed PHP28.1-billion budget for the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) in 2022 will fund the government’s development projects aimed at addressing hunger and generating more jobs, Malacañang said on Tuesday.


Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the NTF-ELCAC’s proposed 2022 budget was higher than the PHP19 billion budget it received this year to help communities recover from the economic slump caused by the prevailing Covid-19 pandemic and armed conflict.


“Ito po’y sang-ayon din doon sa ating istratehiya kung paano tayo babangon galing po dito sa pandemya na ito (It is part of our strategy how we can recover from the pandemic, and) that is to provide more development projects nang sa ganoon mas maraming hanapbuhay at mas maraming pera ang iikot sa ating ekonomiya (so there will be more job opportunities and more money will circulate in our economy),” he said in an online presser.


Under the National Expenditure Program for 2022, the NTF-ELCAC will get PHP28.1 billion.


The proposal to have NTF-ELCAC a higher funding next year came amid calls to defund the anti-insurgency task force.


Roque emphasized the need to give NTF-ELCAC a bigger budget, saying the government seeks to address hunger and provide job opportunities to discourage people residing in rebel-infested villages from joining the communist movement.


“Maski po nandiyan ang pandemya, alam pa rin natin na ang kagutuman ang dahilan nang pag-aalsa, okay. Ito pong mga proyektong ito ay magbibigay hanapbuhay doon sa mga nahihirapan sa buhay na dahilan kaya sila nagiging rebelde (Even if there’s a pandemic, we know that hunger is the reason for uprising. These projects will provide jobs to the poor who have been forced to become rebels),” he said.


Roque also ensured that the proposed funds for NTF-ELCAC would not be used for election purposes.


“Mayroon na po tayong constitutional guarantees, mayroon po tayong ban on public works projects kapag panahon na po ng eleksiyon (We have constitutional guarantees that there is ban on public works projects during elections),” he said.


Roque likewise denied the accusation of the opposition Makabayan Bloc in the House of Representatives that NTF-ELCAC is receiving millions of pesos through illegal fund transfer from various agencies.


He added that there is nothing wrong with the Department of the Interior and Local Government’s (DILG) utilization of funds for the task force-related activities.


“Wala pong fund transfer. Ito po ay (That is) downloading of funds from the DILG Central Office to their regional office at ito daw po ay (and that is) authorized,” Roque said.


Sustaining recovery, infra development


Apart from the NTF-ELCAC’s development projects, Roque said the Duterte government’s proposed 2022 spending will further boost the country’s economy amid the pandemic.


Roque said the proposed 2022 budget for food security, education, social protection, and industry and livelihood will help sustain the momentum towards the country’s recovery.


He added that the government would continue prioritizing its infrastructure projects by allotting PHP1.180 billion for its ambitious “Build, Build, Build” program.


Roque said the proposed budget also seeks the allocation of PHP4.5 billion for intelligence and confidential expenses under President Rodrigo Duterte’s office to address the drug problem, as well as the threat of terrorism and insurgency.


“Diyan po napupunta ang ating intel fund at kasama din po diyan doon sa mga benepisyong binibigay doon sa mga napapatay na mga sundalo at mga kapulisan (We need the intel funds to fund the benefits that will be given to slain soldiers and cops),” he said. (PNA)

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