Rural areas to suffer from NTF-ELCAC budget cut: Lorenzana

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana (Presidential photo)

MANILA – The decision of senators to cut a significant portion of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict's (NTF-ELCAC) proposed budget for the Barangay Development Project (BDP) for 2022 shows their lack of appreciation of the hardships being experienced by those living in remote communities.

"The move by the Senate Finance Committee to cut the Barangay Development Program (BDP) budget by PHP24 billion shows their lack of appreciation of the plight of our folks in the remote barangays," Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said in a statement Thursday.

This came after the Senate slashed the proposed PHP28.12 billion budget of the task force to just PHP4 billion for 2022.

Senator Sonny Angara, Senate Finance Committee chair, said they took the bulk of the NTF-ELCAC's budget and realigned to fund pandemic response programs.

"Their act was supposed to punish the NTF, but in effect, they are punishing the poor people who would have benefited from the infrastructure and social services projects under the BDP. The previous BDP funds were all disbursed through the LGUs (local government units)," Lorenzana said.

Earlier, the NTF-ELCAC said it is allocating PHP20 million each for 1,406 barangays cleared of communist terrorist influence under its Barangay Development Project (BDP) this coming 2022.

The PHP20 million allocated per barangay will be spent for BDP core projects like farm-to-market roads, school buildings, water and sanitation systems, livelihood programs, and health stations.

Meanwhile, Lorenzana said Vice President Leni Robredo's call to abolish the NTF-ELCAC over concerns that it could be used to launch a campaign similar to the anti-illegal drugs program "Oplan Tokhang" is misplaced.

"The NTF has been implementing its mandate for the past two years and we have not received any complaints from the target barangays," he said.

Lorenzana also said the NTF-ELCAC is already implementing a whole-of-nation approach to address the “root causes" of insurgency.

"VP Robredo may consider inviting the NTF-ELCAC for a dialogue so she can be enlightened on the inter-agency body's mission," he added. (PNA)

Source: Business Diary Philippines

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