Senate panel gives NTF-Elcac just P4B after a P24B budget cut
MANILA, Philippines — Senators have slashed by P24 billion the proposed budget for the government’s anti-insurgency task force, leaving it with just P4 billion allocation next year, Senator Sonny Angara revealed on Tuesday.
From P28.1 billion, Angara said the Senate finance committee, which he chairs, reduced the proposed budget for the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-Elcac) to a measly P4 billion or just about 16 percent of the proposed allocation.
Initially, Angara said the NTF-Elcac’s budget was cut by P20 billion.
“Actually, naging source namin yun ng fund… Pag nagdadagdag ka sa isang agency, you have to remove from other agencies. So nabawasan yung NTF-Elcac actually,” he said in an online interview with Senate reporters.
(Actually, it became the source of our funds…When you add from one agency, you have to remove from other agencies. So the NTF-Elcac’s [budget] has been reduced)
“I think P20 billion, yun yung napunta sa health allowances… I think there’s a P28 billion NTF- Elcac and now it’s down to around P4 billon,” Angara added.
However, the senator later corrected himself and said the task force’s budget was cut by P24 billion, and not P20 billion.
“Actually P24 billion ang nabawas,” he later said.
According to Angara, one reason why senators decided to make a huge slash in the NTF-Elcac’s budget was its failure to submit a report to the Senate on how the task force spent its P19 billion appropriation this year.
“We can’t make a judgment really if the program has been a success or not because we’ve not received, very little information on the actual project,” he said.
He said they surmised that this year’s budget was not fully utilized and the unspent budget could be carried over to next year’s allocation of NTF-Elcac.
Despite the budget cut, Angara said 850 barangays would still receive P5 million each for its development program.
“So we didn’t abolish the program altogether. Although yung iba gustong huwag nang pondohan yun, nag iwan pa rin kami dun,” he pointed out.
(So we didn’t abolish the program altogether. Although others wanted to defund it, we still retain some in their budget.)
Angara though clarified the NTF-Elcac’s budget could still be increased or reduced further during Senate floor deliberations or when it is tackled in the bicameral conference committee.