House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco on Thursday batted for additional budget for the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-Elcac), saying that more funding for the task force would help it develop barangays in several regions that were liberated from the clutches of the communist-led New People’s Army.
He stressed peace and order are among the key priorities of the Duterte administration.
“Personally, I believe we should provide additional funding to these barangays mainly because we have to develop them,” Velasco told a television interview.
He expressed belief that some individuals are enticed to join the communist movement because they don’t feel the presence of the government in their areas.
“With the presence of Elcac, I really think that they will feel the presence of the government more in those barangays,” Velasco said.
Velasco said the proposal to increase the funding for the NTF-Elcac will be tackled during budget deliberations for 2022.
The National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) is allocated a P19 billion total budget.
National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr., the task force’s vice chair, said the bulk of the total budget of thefunds had been allocated for the Barangay Development Program (BDP).
The BDP is the government’s counter-insurgency program that aims to deliver various government projects in conflict-afflicted and geographically isolated villages that have been considered “cleared” from the influence of communist rebels.
In another development, the Philippine National Police on Thursday emphasized that police operations against individuals, including the National Democratic Front (NDF) consultants and personalities with links to the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army, are legitimate and have basis.
PNP Chief Guillermo Eleazar dismissed the NDF’s warning that attacks against their members and government dissenters would continue after it was tagged by the Anti-Terrorism Council as a terrorist organization being an integral part of the CPP/NPA.
“I would like to point out that our operations are not against activists or critics of the administration, but against persons who have committed crimes and those responsible for atrocities of the CPP/NPA//NDF,” Eleazar pointed out.
He explained that personalities with standing warrant of arrest and those who committed criminal offenses are the targets of police operations.
He also dispelled allegations by the NDF that the arrest of their consultants and personalities linked to the CPP/NPA are based on fabricated charges.
Dozens of NDF consultants with standing criminal records, includingthe Tiamzon couple who were permitted to participate in the peace negotiations with the government went underground in the aftermath of the abrogated peace accord.