Drilon to Bato on NTF-Elcac abolition: ‘Stick to the issue’
MANILA, Philippines — Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Sunday schooled Senator Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa after his tirade against fellow solons who are calling for the abolition of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-Elcac).
During his tirade, Dela Rosa called the senators who are pushing for the NTF-Elcac’s abolition “bwisit” (nuisances).
“Nakakalungkot ‘yung ginagamit ng ating kasamahan sa senado na ‘bwisit’ (nuisance). Ito po ay debate para sa kapakanan ng taumbayan at tinitingnan natin kung paano ginastos ang pera ng taumbayan,” Drilon said in an interview on DZBB on Sunday.
(It is unfortunate that our colleague in the senate uses ‘bwisit’. This is a debate for the welfare of the people and we are looking at how the people’s money is spent.)
“Ako, kumokontra ako. Hindi naman siguro ako bwisit. Ito po, huwag na nating dalhin sa personalan, pag-usapan na lang natin,” he added.
(I, for one object. I don’t think that means I’m a nuisance. Enough with the personal insults, let’s just talk about it.)
In a separate statement, Drilon then further advised Dela Rosa to stop the name-calling, as “it will not get us anywhere.”
“It is an insult to the senators and the institution we belong to. Let’s stick to the issue,” Drilon said.
Drilon then disputed claims made by Dela Rosa where he accused fellow senators who want the NTF-Elcac abolished as using the issue to boost their political agenda.
“Hindi ito pamumulitika. Ito ay pangangalaga ng pera ng taumbayan; walang pamumulitika, ito ay tamang paggamit ng pera ng taumbayan,” Drilon said.
(This is not politicking. It is the protection of the people’s money. It is the proper use of people’s money.)
He then enumerated a number of reasons why he is opposing the NTF-Elcac and supporting the decision of the Senate Finance Committee to slash its funding to P4 billion from P28 billion.
According to Drilon, COVID-19 booster shots remain unfunded in the proposed General Appropriations Act, while P45 billion is allocated for the purchase of COVID-19 vaccines under the unprogrammed fund.
He explained that it is best to rechannel the funds in support of the government’s pandemic response such as the procurement of COVID-19 booster shots, as well as the provision for “ayuda” or aid — as there is also no funds for such.
Drilon also emphasized that barangays are beneficiaries of regular programs implemented by line agencies, meaning that they will still benefit from increased internal revenue allotments next year.
He said this after he noted that P16.2 billion of NTF-Elcac’s 2021 P19 billion fund went to the Barangay Development Fund.
“Ang proyekto sa barangay, maraming pwedeng magbigay diyan: DA, DOH, DPWH, DSWD. Nakakalat sa iba’t ibang ahensya. Ang lumalabas na itong NTF-Elcac na lang ang maitutulong sa barangay, hindi po tama iyan,” Drilon said.
(The project in the barangay, many can donate there: DA (Department of Agriculture), DOH (Department of Health), DPWH (Department of Public Works and Highways), DSWD (Department of Social Welfare and Development). Scattered across various agencies. This idea that Only NTF-Elcac can help the barangay, that’s not right.)
He then pointed out that only 26 out of 2,318 approved projects supposedly for barangays cleared of the insurgency were finished.
Drilon also criticized the agencies’ utilization of their NTF-Elcac funds in the Philippine National Police (PNP) where they received a P1 billion allocation but conducted only about 13 million activities in 10 months.
He also cited a huge disconnect in the way the Department of National Defense and the Armed Forces of the Philippines are left out in the implementation of the country’s anti-insurgency programs.
Drilon said he could not believe that the AFP, which is tasked to fight insurgency, was only given P199,000 from the NTF-Elcac allocation, while the PNP received a whopping P1 billion.
Lastly, Drilon recalled how senators questioned why the NTF-Elcac gave P400 million to Panabo City in Davao Del Norte alone while the rest of Davao del Norte only received P60 million.
Meanwhile, Dela Rosa also earlier warned that the huge budget cut may give the impression that the Senate is supporting the NPA.
Other senators, however, have repeatedly explained that the reduction was because there were questions on how the task force is spending its huge budget.
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.