Press Release
September 9, 2020

Drilon fears P16.4-B allocation for anti-communist task force can be used for 2022 election
The minority leader warns that post-enactment identification of projects is unconstitutional pursuant to the Supreme Court ruling on PDAF case

Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon did not mince words as he questioned the allocation of P16.4 billion for the Barangay Development Program of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) created under the Office of the President supposedly to fight insurgency, saying that the funds can be used for 2022 elections.

"Let's be candid. Next year is an election year and here is a secretariat who will be playing God to the requests of the barangays. When you have a system like this, it can be clearly used for political purposes especially that 2021 is an election year," Drilon said during the Development Budget Coordinating Committee (DBCC) briefing on the proposed P4.5-trillion 2021 budget on Wednesday.

"I call a spade a spade. I am being candid with you. I am not new in this bureaucracy. When you have an office, not a regular line agency but just somebody or a task force, who will be approving and disapproving the requests of barangays barangay, you can imagine the political favors that can be done out of this system," Drilon stressed.

"Are we saying that communist insurgency will be a bigger threat than our unemployment Is the communist insurgency a bigger threat than our high unemployment, the loss of jobs of our OFWs, the shutdown of our entire tourism industry and the closure of tens of thousands of small businesses?" Drilon asked.

Drilon pointed out that the P16.4 billion lodged under a task force, not even a line agency, is bigger than the budget of the Department of Labor and Employment of P15.9 billion, the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration's P7.4 billion budget, the Department of Tourism's P3.5 billion, and the Department of Trade and Industry's P5.5 billion budget.

Under the provisions of the 2021 national expenditures program, the P16.4 shall be used for the implementation of various support programs of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) for the cleared barangays as certified by the NTF-ELCAC.

The proposed appropriation law provides that each cleared barangay shall be allocated with an amount not exceeding P20 million to be used for farm-to-market road; school building; water and sanitation system; health stations; electrification; agricultural, livelihood and technical vocational trainings/projects; and assistance to indigent individual or families in any of the following forms of assistance: (a) medical; (b) burial; (c) transportation; (d) food; (e) cash for work; and (f) educational.

Drilon told Budget Secretary Wendell Avisado that the functions can be very well performed by different line agencies.

"If a barangay would need a farm-to-market road, why can they not go to DPWH? Why do we need to create a new bureaucracy when this can be handled by different line agencies?" he added.

Drilon said such a decision to create a new layer of bureaucracy unnecessarily bloats the budget for personnel. He pointed out that the 2021 budget for personnel services (PS) has steadily been increasing in the past years, and stands at P1.1trillion in 2021. This is disproportionately increasing aass against the budget for capital outlays, which only accounts for P1.1 trillion.

In a separate statement, the minority leader warned that post-enactment identification of projects is unconstitutional pursuant to the Supreme Court rulings on PDAF or priority development assistance fund.

"The DBM must already identify the barangays that stand to benefit and submit the list to Congress prior to the approval of the 2021 General Appropriations Act. We cannot approve this lumpsum appropriation as it violates the principle of transparency in the budget. Post-identification of projects is unconstitutional," he stressed.

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