Roque states part of NTF-ELCAC budget plan to go to typhoon-hit Bicol
MANILA, Philippines– As the nation withstands a sticking around pandemic and the damage wrought by the strongest storm of the year, the president’s spokesman stated he sees no need to straighten the anti-communist task force’s proposed P19- billion budget plan for2021
” In my opinion, there is no need to straighten,” presidential spokesman Harry Roque stated in Filipino throughout a virtual instruction kept in Catanduanes, discussing that, as areas with active insurgents, Bicol and Catanduanes– which bore the brunt of Tropical storm Rolly’s lashing over the weekend– are currently slated to receive funds from the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Dispute.
” Due to the fact that we know that development is needed to eliminate the issue when it comes to insurgency. And these are the victims of the typhoon, they will be the recipients of the ELCAC fund. So there is no need to straighten there,” he added in Filipino.
Of the around P19 billion designated for the NTF-ELCAC’s budget plan in 2021, P16 billion is for the funding of the Barangay Development Program. However, under this program, just barangays which have actually been licensed by authorities as cleared of communist rebels will receive P20 million in funds from the nationwide government.
” Let’s just continue to fund the ELCAC and big funds will go here to [Bicol] and Catanduanes where there really are active insurgents,” Roque further stated in Filipino. It is unclear how areas which have actually been characterized by the governmental spokesman as having active insurgents may be qualified to receive funds from the anti-insurgency job force.
Roque was inquired about realigning NTF-ELCAC funds not simply for typhoon relief but for action to the COVID-19 crisis as well. He did not touch on realigning funds for pandemic action and was not additional prodded by the reporters on state-run PTV.
‘ Red-tagging’ job force
This begins the heels of a still simmering dispute over the NTF-ELCAC’s practice of implicating government officials, celebrities, and progressive groups of becoming part of the Communist Celebration of the Philippines. Often, people or groups implicated of becoming part of the CPP by military authorities are those who slam government policies or are vocal in their championing of human rights.
CPP membership has actually not been a crime in the Philippines because the repeal of the Anti-Subversion Law in1992 The CPP and the NPA have yet to be proscribed under the brand-new Anti-Terrorism Act.
Amidst this controversy, minority senators have actually floated redirecting of the NTF-ELCAC’s funds for relief and rehab efforts for Rolly– the greatest hurricane of 2020– with Sen. Risa Hontiveros mentioning that the task force’s substantial allocation exceeds the P632 million allocated to the Department of Housing Settlements and Urban Development.
She also pointed out that other essential agencies such as the Office of the Ombudsman with P3.
Rep. Carlos Zarate and Rep. Ferdinand Gaite from the left-leaning Bayan Muna party-list formerly advised the Senate to defund the anti-comunist job force altogether.
Of the NTF-ELCAC’s total spending plan, Hontiveros earlier required P8 billion to be realigned to the health sector. She also sought to reroute another P2 billion from the job force’s budget plan for hurricane relief and rehab.
At least seven senators are willing to back the full or partial adjustment of the NTF-ELCAC’s budget, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon told Inquirer on Wednesday. While he would not identify these senators, Drilon himself said he would like to see to the whole job force’s budget plan realigned.
The Senate chief fiscalizer previous sounded the alarm over the manner of disbursements for the Barangay Advancement Fund, stating that the NTF-ELCAC is offered too much discretion.
Sen. Ping Lacson, who chairs the Senate defense committee, initiated a probe on red-tagging, saying its desired result was to craft “proper standards that will prevent misunderstanding between the public and the military and making sure the protection of the constitutional rights of individuals.”
The investigation was stimulated by a series of so-called warnings and accusations tossed by Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr., spokesperson for the National Job Force to End Local Communist Armed Dispute, against celebs, local government leaders and a ladies’s group.
Nevertheless, the Senate hearing became a site for further red-tagging. A number of those accused denied the claims versus them and expressed fear that such rhetoric from high ranking military official threatened their lives along with their families.