Palace: Defunding NTF-ELCAC ‘not justified’
MANILA, Philippines — For Malacañang, defunding the country’s counterinsurgency task force is “not justified” since the task force has projects that develop local communities.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque has this to say after some lawmakers have called on the defunding of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) and instead reallocate its current P19-billion budget for the assistance to people affected by the pandemic.
“Ang pagkakaalam ko, ‘yung pondo ng ELCAC ay para sa mga proyekto na magbibigay ng asenso at progreso sa mga lugar na mayroon pang mga rebelde,” he said in a Palace briefing.
(As far as I know, the budget of NTF-ELCAC is for projects that develop communities where there are still rebels.)
“Sa akin po, hindi naman po justified ‘yan [defunding],” he added.
(I don’t think that’s justified.)
Roque said the task force should be allowed to do its duties as long as there is a clear policy for its actions.
The lawmakers issued the call after the task force’s spokesperson, Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr., spoke against the organizer of the Maginhawa Community Pantry, likening her to Satan’s apple.
Asked if Malacañang will restrain Parlade from issuing statements against community pantry organizers, Roque said he, along with Interior Secretary Eduardo Año will instead talk to Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on the matter since that is the chain of command.
The NTF-ELCAC, which has been linked to a number of controversies involving red-tagging, was criticized for sharing social media posts claiming that community pantries are being used for propaganda of communist groups.
However, Parlade said the task force was “just checking” the background of the organizers of community pantries to make sure they do not have any other agenda, adding that it was netizens who prompted the NTF-ELCAC to do the checking.