NTF ELCAC budget cut to hinder gains vs. insurgency: DND exec
By Priam Nepomuceno / Philippine News Agency
MANILA – Defense Undersecretary and Task Force Balik Loob (TFBL) chair Reynaldo Mapagu lamented the Senate's decision to reduce the proposed 2022 budget of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC)'s Barangay Development Program (BDP) from PHP28.12 billion to PHP4 billion.
"Instead of hastening the progress we have made over the last five years in addressing the root causes of the communist insurgency, this move will only reinforce the CTG (communist terrorist group) propaganda of government neglect, especially in the far-flung communities," said Mapagu, who is also head of the NTF-ELCAC's Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP) and Amnesty Program Cluster, in a statement on Friday.
Senator Sonny Angara, Senate Finance Committee chair, said they took the bulk of the NTF-ELCAC's budget and realigned it to fund pandemic response programs.
He added that the essence of the NTF-ELCAC is to shift the focus of anti-insurgency efforts from a purely military approach to a holistic one.
Mapagu said the BDP is one of the NTF-ELCAC's tools to ensure that systems and infrastructure will be available to address the gaps in the delivery of services at the grassroots level.
"It is often said that the road to peace is the actual road. As more and more members of the communist terrorist group return to the fold of the law and undergo the reintegration process through E-CLIP, we hope that they can also return to communities that can support individual and collective development," he added.
He also urged the Senate to reconsider its decision and listen to the voices of those living in far-flung areas who are clamoring for the BDP. (PNA)