Press Release
June 1, 2021

Drilon: 2022 nat'l budget, bigger anti-insurgency fund for 2022 a 'campaign kitty'

Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon vowed to oppose "tooth and nail" the budget of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) for 2022, warning that the 2022 national budget can be used as a huge "campaign kitty" for next year's election.

"We should be more vigilant. The 2022 budget is an election budget. We must not allow the budget to be used for election or partisan political activities," Drilon said in a statement on Tuesday.

Drilon said he believes that the controversial task force will seek an increase to its budget for 2022 to give away more funds to different barangays across the country "in an election year."

Drilon said he is ready to oppose the budget of NTF-ELCAC "tooth and nail", adding that he believes that many of his colleagues will propose to defund or give a zero budget to the task force.

The proposed National Expenditures Program that outlines the government's priorities for 2022 will be submitted to Congress in July or August, after the President's last State of the Nation Address or Sona.

Earlier, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon announced that the number of "cleared" barangays has increased by 1,398 from 822 to 2,220. The 822 barangays had already received funding from the task force's P16.4-billion so-called barangay development program.

"That will be a whopping P28 billion election war chest. We will vehemently oppose the budget of NTF-ELCAC," Drilon said.

He added: "In fact, we will propose that every centavo that will be allocated to NTF-ELCAL in the to be submitted NEP be realigned to our pandemic response and ayuda or financial assistance to the poor who continuously experience hunger because of the pandemic."

"Instead of allocating billions of taxpayers' money to NTF-ELCAC, let us increase the budget of 4Ps or Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program. Let us use the funds to assist our jobless kababayans," he added.

Drilon said it is obvious that the program is disguised as an anti-insurgency countermeasure but, in reality, it is meant to help boost the chances of the administration candidates for next year's election.

This early, Drilon said there are barangays in the country which are being used for partisan politics.

He cited, for instance, a letter supposedly coming from a barangay chairman in a village in Bulacan circulated in social media supposedly soliciting support to the candidacy of Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, the President's daughter.

Drilon said the anti-insurgency budget and other lump sum appropriations in the budget can easily be diverted to programs that can help boost the administration's candidates for 2022.

Aside from the fear that the anti-insurgency is being used "in aid of election," Drilon and some of his colleagues had castigated the task force's spokesperson for red-tagging individuals and groups.

Fifteen senators led by Senate President Vicente Sotto III and Drilon filed last month Senate Resolution No. 709 which censures Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr., for his disrespectful, derogatory and demeaning statements against senators and questions the continued stay of the controversial lieutenant general as spokesperson of the government's anti-insurgency task force, which violates the Constitution.

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