Filtered By: Topstories

IN AID OF ELECTION? Drilon to oppose P28-B NTF-ELCAC budget for 2022

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon has vowed to oppose “tooth and nail" the P28 billion estimated allocation for the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), reiterating his claim that the funds can be used “in aid of election.”

“We should be more vigilant. The 2022 budget is an election budget. We must not allow the budget to be used for election or partisan political activities,” Drilon said in a statement Tuesday.

Drilon noted National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon’s previous announcement that the barangays cleared from communist insurgency has increased from 822 to 2,220.

For 2021, the 822 “cleared” barangays were allocated with P16.4 billion for the NTF-ELCAC’s Barangay Development Program.

“That will be a whopping P28 billion election war chest. We will vehemently oppose the budget of NTF-ELCAC,” Drilon said.

“In fact, we will propose that every centavo that will be allocated to NTF-ELCAL in the to-be submitted “National Expenditures Program” be realigned to our pandemic response and ayuda or financial assistance to the poor who continuously experience hunger because of the pandemic,” he added.

In response, Esperon, vice chair of the NTF-ELCAC, said the task force is just doing its job.

“Sanay na sanay siya sa election. Kami trabaho lang,” Esperon said in a text message to GMA News Online.

(He is very used to elections. We are just doing our job.)

Partisan politics?

The Executive Department is set to submit their proposed budget under the NEP after President Rodrigo Duterte’s State of the Nation Address in July.

“Instead of allocating billions of taxpayers’ money to NTF-ELCAC, let us increase the budget of 4Ps or Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program. Let us use the funds to assist our jobless kababayans,” Drilon suggested anew.

Drilon said  it is obvious that the barangay development program was “disguised” as anti-insurgency measure but was really “ meant to help boost the chances of the administration candidates for next year’s election.”

He said these barangays are being used this early for “partisan politics.”

Drilon cited a letter from a barangay in Bulacan as an example. The said letter was supposedly soliciting support to the candidacy of Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, the President’s daughter.

GMA News Online earlier asked Sara Duterte to comment on the said letter, but she refused to issue any statement.

Sara has emerged as the top choice of respondents in the pre-election survey conducted by Pulse Asia earlier this year.

Further, the minority chief warned about the anti-insurgency budget and other lump sum appropriations being easily diverted to programs that can help the administration’s candidate in the upcoming elections.

He reiterated that a Senate resolution was already filed to censure Army Lieutenant General Antonio Parlade Jr. for his disrespectful, derogatory and demeaning statements against senators.

The resolution also questioned Parlade’s retention as the task force’s spokesperson, emphasizing that the military officer’s position in NTF-ELCAC violates the 1987 Constitution.

The resolution was backed by 15 senators. — RSJ, GMA News