NTF-Elcac projects lagging; House panel urges for budget restoration | Inquirer News

NTF-Elcac projects lagging; House panel urges for budget restoration

/ 03:33 PM November 30, 2022

MANILA, Philippines — Despite best efforts, the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict’s (NTF-Elcac) projects remain woefully behind, with a mere 2 percent being completed or underway this year.

Despite the projects at a snail’s pace toward completion, the House bicameral committee plans to restore the funds removed from the NTF-Elcac’s proposed budget, House appropriations panel chair and Ako Bicol Representative Zaldy Co said.

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“Based on reports received by my office, only two percent of NTF-ELCAC’s 2022 projects has been completed or ongoing. A whopping 98 percent of the projects are still under the pre-procurement or procurement stage, and it’s already December,” the panel chairperson said in a statement on Wednesday.

Co said that “the situation is even worse” this year as the NTF-Elcac managed to accomplish 48 percent of its projects last year.

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He pressed the NTF-Elcac to speed up their project execution and think about partnering with organizations specializing in project procurement and implementation.

The congressman urged the task force to exert more effort to maximize the budgets allotted by Congress.

Meanwhile, Co said the House bicameral committee would coordinate with its counterparts in the Senate to restore the NTF-Elcac’s proposed budget.

House Speaker Martin Romualdez and Deputy Senior Majority Leader Ferdinand Alexander “Sandro” Marcos gave the instruction to reinstate the budget, said Co.

“Congress recognizes the important role the NTF-ELCAC plays to help end the country’s decades-long insurgency. Thus, we will convince our Senate counterparts in the bicameral conference committee to restore the agency’s proposed budget,” Co stressed.

“After all, this is one of the key priorities of President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. which was clearly outlined in the National Expenditure Program the administration sent to Congress,” he added.

The NTF-Elcac’s budget for next year is P10 billion.

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Realign, not restore

For House Deputy Minority Leader and ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro, the NTF-Elcac budget should be realigned to assistance for poor Filipinos.

“Pinagdebatehan at binusisi ang budget na yan ng NTF-Elcac at nagdesisyon ang buong plenaryo na bawasan ang budget nito tapos isasangtabi lang ito ng ganun na lang? Para saan pa ang debate at interpelasyon? Wala na bang demokrasya maging sa Kongreso at kung ano na lang ang gusto ng nasa itaas ang masusunod?” Castro pointed out in a separate statement.

(We debated and scrutinized the budget of NTF-Elcac and the plenary decided to reduce its budget, and we will just set it aside? What are the debate and interpellations for? Is there no democracy in Congress and we just heed to the wants of those in higher positions?)

“Ano ba naman yan kailangangang-kailangan ng ayuda ng mga kababayan natin tapos nagsasayang ng pera NTF-ElcacC tapos bibigyan pa ng buong P10 B budget?” she continued, noting the low accomplishment rate of the task force.

(Our fellow Filipinos need aid and the NTF-Elcac is wasting money and we will still give them the whole P10 billion?)

Castro noted that if the P10-billion budget of the NTF-Elcac will be realigned to aid, one million families or five million individuals will get P10,000.

The congresswoman hoped that the lower chamber would reconsider restoring NTF-Elcac’s budget.

“If the NTF-Elcac budget is restored it seems that Congress is rewarding incompetence and red-tagging but did not address the real cause of the armed conflict and not directly aided our long suffering people,” she said.

“I hope that the House leadership would reconsider so that people will see that Congress would help them get aid rather than waste their hard earned money on red-taggers,” Castro went on.

READ: Proposed NTF-ELCAC budget for 2023 down to P10-B; Infra lower by P68-B

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