Robredo is against terrorism, but finds NTF-ELCAC ‘problematic’ — VP spox
By Raymund Antonio / Manila Bulletin
Vice President Leni Robredo’s spokesman on Sunday, Nov. 14, maintained that the presidential aspirant and leader of the opposition is against terrorism and insurgency in the country but stressed that the government’s current anti-insurgency task force is “problematic.”
During Robredo’s radio show, lawyer Barry Gutierrez said that the country’s anti-insurgency and anti-terrorism efforts need a “new leadership,” rejecting malicious reports that the Vice President is pro-terrorism because of her stand to abolish the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).
“Importante ang patuloy na laban natin sa terorismo. Ilang beses na paulit-ulit niya ‘yang sinabi yan (It is important to continue our fight against terrorism. She keeps on saying that),” he added.
But under a possible Robredo administration, her spokesman stressed that NTF-ELCAC cannot flourish because they add more to the problem rather than solve it.
“Ang problema sa NTF-ELCAC eh ang dami na nitong sablay, di ba (The problem with NTF-ELCAC is it has a lot of missteps),” Gutierrez said.
“Itong NTF-ELCAC at mga kasalukuyang nakaupo sa NTF-ELCAC. Iyong liderato, medyo may konting problema. Nag-create ng dagdag na kalaban kaysa bumawas sa dapat na tinututukan na kalaban (This NTF-ELCAC and the current leaders in NTF-ELCAC. The leadership has a slight problem. They created more enemies instead of decreasing the enemies we need to focus on),” he added.
The spokesman also cited the data coming out from the Senate hearing on the Department of Budget and Management’s (DBM) budget.
The Senate earlier slashed down the task force’s 2022 budget from P28 billion to P4 billion.
This came after Senator Sonny Angara, the Senate Finance committee head and principal author of the 2022 General Appropriations Bill, revealed that only 26 out of the task force’s 2,318 projects for 2021 have been completed.
“Gusto mo ng ganitong kadaming pera dahil marami kang proyekto pero hindi mo naman kayang ipatupad nang tuluyan at maayos (You demand for this much money because you have a lot of projects but you cannot implement it capably)?,” Gutierrez asked.
He also hit the NTF-ELCAC for arguing against lawyers, senators, and universities, among others, instead of unifying the country in its fight against terrorism and insurgency.
Robredo’s stand has always been to continue the fight against terrorism, albeit by partnering with civil society groups, Gutierrez said.
Senators have been questioning the task force’s activities, especially as some of its budget for barangay development programs have been passed on to local government units.
Administration Senators Bong Go and Ronald Dela Rosa opposed the budget cut, saying that it will put in jeopardy the gains by the task force, which was organized in the wake of President Duterte’s unilateral termination of peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) in 2017.
Robredo, during a online forum with the Rotary Club of Makati, expressed her dismay over the NTF-ELCAC, saying that its budget can be better used to address the pandemic.