Probe, audit of NTF-ELCAC funds sought amid red-tagging uproar
MANILA, Philippines — Amid fresh links to red-tagging controversies, some House lawmakers are seeking an investigation or audit of the funds of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).
Deputy Speaker Mikee Romero said that the House can start its investigation as early as next week even before Congress resumes session on May 17.
“We want NTF-ELCAC officials to give details as to where and how the funds are being used and how their vilification tactics translate to having more communist rebels turning their backs on insurgency,” Romero said in a statement.
“Should NTF-ELCAC fail to substantiate their claims and justify use of funds, Congress may realign its budget to more urgent needs,” he added.
The NTF-ELCAC was once again linked to red-tagging controversies after Anna Patricia Non temporarily halted the operations of the Maginhawa community pantry over “red-tagging” on social media. Non is the organizer of the said initiative in the area.
One of the screenshots included in Non’s announcement showed that the NTF-ELCAC shared posts which stated that community pantries are being used for propaganda of communist groups.
NTF-ELCAC spokesperson Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr. said the task force has nothing to do with red-tagging community pantries and its organizers, adding that they are just “checking” the situation of community pantries to make sure that organizers do not have any other agenda.
“The rampant unlawful profiling and obvious red-tagging of organizers of community pantries by officials of the NTF-ELCAC are simply too wicked to be ignored by the members of this august chamber,” Romero said.
“Attributing malice, without presenting hard evidence, sows division among Filipinos and send chilling effect to those who may want to help their fellow kababayan,” he added.
Another House lawmaker, Misamis Oriental Rep. Juliette Uy, also called for an audit of the funds of NTF-ELCAC.
She specifically called on the Commission on Audit (COA) to check on the funds of the NTF-ELCAC and the National Privacy Commission (NPC) to see whether the task force has complied with privacy mandates by law.
Uy said these requests of Congress to the COA and NPC are part of their legislative oversight functions.
“Itong NTF-ELCAC na mahilig mang-red-tag sa community pantry organizers, pina-audit natin sa COA and Privacy Commission upang makatulong sa isasagawang imbestigasyon ng Senate at House,” Uy said in a statement.
“Yung Congressional investigation supported by the findings of COA and Privacy Commission, maaaring magbunsod sa re-channeling ng NTF-ELCAC to augment COVID-19 response of the government o pagbuwag sa NTF-ELCAC altogether, depende sa kalalabasan ng imbestigasyon,” the lawmaker added.
Gabriela Women’s Party Rep. Arlene Brosas earlier said the P19-billion budget of the NTF-ELCAC can be used to fund the proposed measures seeking to provide financial assistance to those affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
In the Senate, at least six senators have expressed the need to withdraw funding for the NTF-ELCAC and reallocate its current P19-billion budget to fund assistance to people affected by the pandemic.
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