Manila, PHILIPPINES – Presidential candidates Bato dela Rosa and Bongbong Marcos both expressed their opposition to the decision of the Senate to slash the budget of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) from P28 billion to P4 billion.
During the plenary deliberation for the budget of the Department of Budget and Management on Thursday, November 11, Senator Bato dela Rosa questioned the decision of his colleagues, saying that the budget cut for the ant-insurgency task force might be perceived by the public as a gesture of support of the Senate to the New People’s Army.
“Ang pinakamasakit dito, Mr. President, ay kapag tayo ay ma-misinterpret ng taumbayan. Iyong mga taga-bundok, masyadong mababa iyong kanilang pag-understand sa situation. Baka sabihin nila tayo sa Senado ay pro-NPA dahil tinanggal na din ang pondo na nakakapatay sa problema ng NPA,” he said.
Meanwhile, Bongbong Marcos said in a statement on Thursday that he was saddened by the Senate’s decision, saying that it would undermine government’s efforts to end insurgency in the country.
“Nakapanghihinayang na baka mabalewala at masayang lamang ang magandang nasimulan ng ahensya. Batid natin na kailangan ng sapat na pondo para masugpo ang insurgency na limang dekada na nating nilalabanan,” Marcos said.
While he supports efforts to ensure adequate funding for the government’s pandemic response, Marcos said that anti-insurgency efforts should likewise be prioritized.
However, majority of the members of the Senate stands by their decision to slash the budget of NTF-ELCAC and realign it for pandemic response, noting that the task force has failed to explain how it utilized its budget in the recent years. TNF