The bicameral conference committee that deliberated on the proposed P4.5-trillion national budget for next year has retained the contested P19-billion budget for the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict.
This was according to Senate Committee on Finance chair Sonny Angara and House Committee on Appropriations chair Eric Yap, who both led the bicameral panel in reconciling the two chambers' version of the budget bill.
"I think it's intact," Angara told reporters when asked about the panel's decision on the NTF-ELCAC funding.
Yap then confirmed Angara's disclosure.
"We don't touch anything. Wala kaming binawas doon sa NTF-ELCAC," he said.
On the other hand, the progressive Makabayan Bloc was persistent in asking for the defunding of the NTF-ELCAC, whose budget they consider as "general's pork."
Earlier, the bloc wrote to Speaker Lord Allan Velasco to reallocate NTF-ELCAC's budget, as well as the funds for the Office of the President's intelligence activities, the AFP Modernization Program, and the PhilHealth, to augment the allocations for health, education, and job creation for next year.
"The people are suffering up until now over the militarist solutions of the government against the virus," they said.
"The government should not abandon the Filipinos to combat the pandemic by themselves while the Duterte administration is busy consolidating its draconian rule," they added. —LBG, GMA News