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Only 26 out of over 2,300 NTF-ELCAC projects completed —Senate panel

Only 26 out of the 2,318 projects under the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) barangay development fund have been completed, documents submitted to the Senate revealed.

The letter, which was submitted on Monday by NTF-ELCAC, was shown by Senate committee chairman Senator Sonny Angara during the hearing on the proposed P5.024-trillion national budget for 2022 on Thursday. The chamber earlier slashed the agency's proposed budget by P24 billion.

During the plenary debates, Senator Ronaldo dela Rosa asked Angara why the anti-insurgency task force's budget was cut from P28 billion to just P4 billion.

"According to the letter received, of the 2,318 projects to be funded by the P16.4 billion barangay development fund, only 26 have been completed as of today, Mr. President and the rest are in various stages of completion. There are I think over 900 in the pre-procurement stage," Angara told Senate President Vicente Sotto III.

Angara added that over 700 are still in the procurement stage, while 560 are ongoing implementation.

Dela Rosa said the Senate could be seen as a supporter of the New People's Army if the anti-insurgency task force's projects were stopped.

Sotto, meanwhile, said cutting the agency's budget was due to its failure to explain how it used its funds.

Angara said the Senate panel only received NTF-ELCAC's letter when it was asking for the lawmakers' signatures for the committee report for the appropriations bill.

"But to give background to what the committee did when it cut the budget, we had no way of knowing because there was nothing before us," he said.

"We requested all the agencies to submit something but when we did the cut last week, we had nothing, we had no information. This information I'm reading, we only received this Monday," he added.

Dela Rosa argued that other agencies also have unfinished projects and they should have experienced the same.

In response, Angara said: "Actually, 'yon talaga ang ginagawa natin your Honor. 'Pag mabagal po ang implementation ng isang ahensya, 'pag mababa po ang utilization, 'pag mababa ang obligation, we really cut their budgets."

He also explained to dela Rosa that they needed to cut the budget of other agencies for the government's COVID-19 pandemic response.—LDF, GMA News