You can’t do that, Palace tells ‘zero-budget’ lawmaker
MANILA, Philippines—Malacañang on Sunday balked at a congressman’s threat to give the Department of National Defense (DND) a “zero budget” next year following the recent spate of bombings in Mindanao.
Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said the threat made by Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate would be counterproductive to the DND.
“If you want to help them, perhaps that is not the best way to do it. If the DND is not given a budget, nobody would benefit from that. Certainly, you will be crippling them,” Valte said in an interview over government radio dzRB.
Zarate said he would propose a “zero budget” for the DND if the evidence would show that the department was involved in the bombings that killed and maimed many people.
He said he was “suspiciously disturbed” by the timing of the bombings because they followed the Aug. 2 warning by the US Department of State about possible threats from al-Qaida against American interests in the Middle East and North Africa.
The authorities are looking into the growing links among three “threat groups” out to derail the peace talks between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
Government agents operating against the Abu Sayyaf said the perpetrators of the July 26 bomb attack in Cagayan de Oro City had links to the bandit group’s slain leader, Gumbahali Jumdail.
But on Saturday, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin identified the Khilafah Islamic Movement as among the groups behind the bombings. He described it as an umbrella organization of peace saboteurs, including the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters and rogue members of the MILF.—TJ A. Burgonio
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