The budget for the National Task Force to End Local Armed Conflict to cut by a minimum of P24 billion out of the 2022 national budget of P5.024 trillion, supposedly for the country’s Covid19 recovery. The infrastructure allotment (P665.5 billion) is twice as much as the budget for health (P312 billion).
The cut was spurred by allegations of NTF-ELCAC’s misuse of its P19.33 billion budget this year as well as P16.4 billion for the Local Government Support Funds under the Support to Barangay Development Program. P2.9 billion was also spread to agencies for “administrative and operations expenses.”
Sen. Panfilo Lacson remarked on the alleged misuse and backed the budget cut after being trolled online which the agency was supposedly responsible for.
“Not only do I support the slash in the NTF-Elcac’s proposed budget for 2022, if such misuse was indeed committed, the officials concerned must be made accountable, if not criminally liable,” said Lacson, chair of the Senate committee on national defense and security. He added the misuse of funds was even worse than unused funds. “If the chair of the Senate finance committee (Sen. Sonny Angara) himself asserts that those entrusted to utilize the NTF-Elcac funds cannot even provide the details on how they spent the same, they have no business asking for more.”
Makabayan partylist solons are happy about this move, but say that “bringing it to zero would be better.”
“Slashing the budget of the NTF-Elcac is not enough, it should be completely defunded and abolished,” said House deputy minority leader and Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate.
Gabriela Women’s Rep. Arlene Brosas also backed the cut and said: “Although bringing it to zero would be better. This is precisely what we are pushing for during the House budget deliberations, as the task force failed to provide any legal authority and documentation to justify the ‘general’s pork’ masquerading as local government projects.”