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Senate cuts NTF-ELCAC's budget from P28-B to P4-B

By Anthony Pagapulaan

PHOTO: RMN

Senators have removed P24 billion from the proposed 2022 budget of the government's anti-insurgency task group, the Senate finance panel chair announced Tuesday.

Senator Sonny Angara, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said they reduced the allocation, leaving the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) with P4 billion from P28 billion.

“Actually, naging source namin yun ng fund… Pag nagdadagdag ka sa isang agency, you have to remove from other agencies. So nabawasan 'yung NTF-ELCAC actually,” Angara said in an online interview with Senate press.

Angara then added that the removed billions were diverted to the health allowances for next year.

Due to failure to submit the report on how the task force spent their 2021 budget, the Senate committee considered chopping this huge amount, the committee chairman revealed.

“We can’t make a judgment really if the program has been a success or not because we’ve not received very little information  on the actual project,” he said.

The lawmaker also said that the NTF-ELCAC could carry over their unspent allocation for this year to 2022.

However, in spite of the budget cut, NTF-ELCAC could still distribute P5 million to 850 barangays, Angara pointed out.

“So we didn’t abolish the program altogether. Although yung iba gustong huwag nang pondohan yun, nag iwan pa rin  kami dun,” he said.

Angara clarified that there is still a possible change of the budget in the deliberations or in a bicameral hearing with the Congress.