2 senators question appointment of 6 more NTF-Elcac spokespersons
MANILA, Philippines — At least two senators on Tuesday questioned the designation of six more spokespersons for the administration’s anti-insurgency task force, with one saying the additional expenses to be incurred due to the creation of these new posts should instead be used to aid Filipinos amid the pandemic.
“Ngayon lang ako nakakita ng napakaraming spokesperson na ginagastusan. So, katakataka ano ba talaga ang agenda?” Senator Francis Pangilinan told reporters in an online interview when sought for a comment on the matter.
(This is the first time I’ve seen so many spokespersons who funds will be spent on. So, it’s really puzzling, what’s really the agenda?)
“Sana gamitin na lang ‘yung budget na yun para matulungan yung ayuda at mga pangangailangan ng ating mga kababayan,” he added.
(The budget for these spokespersons should just be used for assistance and for the needs of the public.)
Despite repeated calls from senators to immediately remove Lt. General Antonio Parlade Jr. as the task force’s spokesperson due to constitutional issues, the NTF-Elcac named six additional spokespersons for different areas of concern.
Aside from Parlade, Presidential Communications Operations Office Undersecretary Lorraine Badoy will also keep her post as spokesperson for social media affairs and sectoral concerns.
Both Parlade and Badoy earned criticisms for their alleged red-tagging remarks on community pantry organizers, which then prompted several senators to call for the defunding of the NTF-Elcac.
National Security Adviser and NTF-Elcac vice-chairman Hermogenes Esperon Jr. said in a media conference Monday that increasing the number of their spokesperson to eight is seen to up their system of information exchange and further push the task force’s stance on several issues.
“We find this questionable, and when the budget debates come, we will raise this as part of our obligation and our duty to ensure oversight over the executive department,” Pangilinan said.
He noted the new spokespersons, while already holding concurrent government positions, will still incur additional expenses for the task force.
“Kung meron silang designation, ‘di nila tatawaging salary or compensation. Tatawagin nilang allowances for transportation. Cellphone allowance. Most likely may dagdag na gastos ‘yan dahil dagdag na trabaho. But it does not come in the form of additional salaries,” the senator noted.
(If they have a designation, they would not call it a salary or compensation. They will call it allowances for transportation. Cellphone allowance. Most likely, there would be additional expenses since this would entail additional work for those designated. But it does not come in the form of additional salaries.)
“It really raises questions regarding ano ba talaga ang priority at layunin nitong budget na ito. Para mas maraming nagsasalita? Para mas maraming nagde-defend?”
(It really raises questions regarding their priorities and the objectives of their budget. Is the budget for more people talking on behalf of the task force? So more people will defend it?)
Under the 2021 budget, a total of P19 billion is allocated for NTF-Elcac, P16.4 billion of which is earmarked for the development of barangays cleared of insurgency.
Meanwhile, Senator Risa Hontiveros said the performance of an agency or task force is not dependent on the number of spokespersons.
“Pagdating sa budget, simple lang: kapag pangit ang performance, kailangang magpaliwanag ng ahensya kung bakit hindi ito dapat babawasan ng pondo. There is an appropriate time to study that. Darating din tayo dyan,” she said in a statement.
(When it comes to the budget, it’s simply: If you have dismal performance, the agency would need to explain why its budget should not be slashed. There is an appropriate time to study that We will get there.)
“Ngayong may anim pa silang dagdag na tagapagsalita, siguro naman may makakasagot kahit isa: Kailan matatapos ang mga projects na pinondohan ng NTF-ELCAC? At kailan mailalabas ang natitira pang pera para sa ibang lugar? Show us results,” she added.
(Now that they have six additional spokesmen, I think they would be able to answer: When will the projects funded by NTF-Elcac’s budget be completed? And when will the remaining unreleased money be disbursed to other places? Show us results.)
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