Senator Panfilo Lacson on Thursday claimed a police general had instructed his subordinates to conduct a census in different barangays using the government’s anti-insurgency funds, adding such move might be election-related.
In an ANC interview, Lacson said he received reports that part of the P800 million National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) funds allotted to the Philippine National Police (PNP) would be used for the census.
Meanwhile, Vice President Leni Robredo said Thursday fund releases for the government’s anti-communist task force should be suspended and should instead be spent on cash aid for low-income families who will be affected by the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) from August 6 to 20.
Robredo was referring to the P19 billion budget of the NTF-ELCAC, of which P16 billion are allocated for a Barangay Development Fund, which is granted to supposed communist-free barangays as determined by the task force.
“We received reports that in the PNP, there is a general who is going around instructing his subordinates to conduct census in barangays using part of the P800 million fund under the NTF-ELCAC budget,” Lacson said.
“What they want is 30% of the barangay residents will register, give their names, contact numbers, and addresses. So, for what reason? That is quite suspicious, and it appears that it is for the elections. We have to look into that because that is outside the authorized utilization of the NTF-ELCAC funds, which are meant for development projects,” he added.
It was Lacson, himself a former PNP chief, who sponsored the budget of the anti-insurgency task force in the Senate. He has declared his run for President in the 2022 elections.
Meanwhile, Robredo noted: “We understand there are billions of funds released for NTF-ELCAC. While we are yet to recover from this pandemic, the fund releases should be suspended, and we should ensure that our people will not go hungry. A lot of people need help, especially those affected by the ECQ.”
“At this time, our only priority should be to aid the lockdown-affected families, particularly those who lost their livelihood,” she added.
Robredo then cited that while the government has allotted P13.1 billion to provide a one-time cash grant to about 10.7 million Metro Manila residents or a maximum of P4,000 per family who will be affected by the ECQ protocol, such amount may not even be enough to pay their monthly rent.
“There are 4.2 million Filipino families who experienced involuntary hunger in May and 3.7 million unemployed Filipinos in June. We need to make sure the cash grant will reach each one of them, to ease their hardship,” she said.