2022 proposed NTF-ELCAC funds at P28.12B — DBM
MANILA, Philippines — Despite calls for defunding from a number of lawmakers, the proposed budget for the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) has been increased to P28.12 billion in 2022 — over P11 billion higher than its 2021 budget.
Department of Budget and Management (DBM) officer-in-charge Undersecretary Tina Rose Marie Canda explained that the increase in the proposed NTF-ELCAC funding is attributed to an increase in the number of barangays (villages) to be covered.
“The budget for NTF-ELCAC is P28.12 billion. This is from a budget of P16.44 billion in 2021. The rationale for the increase is that this year, 822 barangays were cleared—that is the equivalent amount for the 2021 level, and for 2022, the number of barangays cleared increased to 1,406,” Canda said.
“The amount per barangay is allocated at P20 million,” she added.
Gabriela Women’s Party Rep. Arlene Brosas lamented this, saying the budget of Department of Health (DOH) hospitals in the country only increased by P3.64 billion.
The East Avenue Medical Center, which is one of the COVID-19 referral hospitals in the country, even suffered a budget cut of P291 million.
“Sabi kanina, dagdagan ‘yung mga cleared areas na, dadagdagan pa nila. Pero hindi naman ito direct response sa pandemic kasi ano ang nilalaman nittons NTF-ELCAC budget?” Brosas said.
“Ang laki ng NTF-ELCAC budget. Hindi siya direct response sa ating pandemya,” she added.
Brosas said if the NTF-ELCAC funds can be “re-channeled” to other appropriations, it can fund the free RT-PCR tests of 8 million Filipinos and 120,000 COVID-19 tests per day for two months.
In response, Canda said certain services under the DOH and several other agencies have been devolved as a result of the Mandanas ruling.
“As a result, there will be some departments—primarily the DOH, Department of Social Welfare and Development, and Department of Public Works and Highways, including Department of Agriculture—which will reflect a downward trend if you will examine their budget because there will be devolution of certain activities in their budgets,” Canda said.
Several lawmakers—both from the House of Representatives and the Senate—have previously called for the defunding of NTF-ELCAC after the agency has been linked to a number of controversies such as red-tagging of civilians.
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