Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III has rejected the suggestion to add the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict’s (NTF-ELCAC’s) P19-billion budget for 2021 to the country’s calamity fund.
In a radio interview Saturday (November 7), Sotto said even the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) will not allow the NTF-ELCAC’s budget to be moved.
“Siguro papayag kami na dagdagan ang calamity fund pero hindi doon kukuhanin [sa anti-insurgency fund]. Maraming pagkukuhanan, huwag na nila pag-initan ang anti-insurgency sapagkat mabigat iyon,” he explained.
Senator Risa Hontiveros earlier suggested realigning a portion of the NTF-ELCAC budget for areas affected by Typhoon Rolly, the strongest typhoon to hit land worldwide this year.
Sotto said the NTF-ELCAC is crucial in the government’s anti-insurgency campaign as they complement the military’s fight.
“Ito ang pinaka-isyu na hindi pinag-uusapan, kapag nilinis mo ang isang area, nilinis mo ng insurgence ganoon-ganoon na lang? Hindi. Kailangan lagyan mo ng livelihood, lagyan mo ng pagkakakitaan. Kung hindi, babalik at babalik sila,” he said.
Sotto assured that the NTF-ELCAC’s funds will not go to the armed forces, but for community development projects in areas previously controlled by the New People’s Army.