Press Release
August 1, 2021

Gov't scrambles for funds for 'ayuda' but is quick to release P16.3B anti-insurgency funds, Drilon laments

As the government scrambles for funds for the special amelioration program or ayuda when Metro Manila and other regions revert to an enhanced community quarantine next week, the government had already released up to the last centavo of the P16.3 billion anti-insurgency funds, P4 billion of which went to Davao region, according to Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon on Sunday.

Drilon lamented how the P16.3 billion could have been used instead for the much-needed ayuda that can put the food on the table of around 4.2 million Filipino families who experienced hunger during the pandemic.

Drilon said that a P4,000 per family, the fund, which was lodged under the heavily-criticized National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), can benefit four million Filipino families when Metro Manila and other regions revert to enhanced community quarantine from August 6 to 20 to control the surge in COVD-19 cases in the country.

"Nakakalungkot po na may pondo para sa anti-insurgency pero walang pondo para sa ayuda," Drilon lamented on Sunday.

Drilon said the government's scrambling for funds can derail the distribution of the much-needed financial relief to poor Filipinos, which they would need when the country returns to ECQ.

The Senate chief fiscalizer pushed for the inclusion of the funding for special amelioration program in the 2021 national budget but it was not a priority of the government compared to anti-insurgency.

"Hindi po nakinig ang pamahalaan," he said. "It is obvious that the government is giving priority to anti-insurgency over the need for ayuda and other health and social needs of our country necessary for us to move forward with our pandemic response," Drilon stressed.

Drilon cited the releases for NTF-ELCAC's anti-insurgency program and said that the government had already dispensed to the last centavo the controversial anti-insurgency fund.

In a four-month period, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) released a total of P16.3 billion for NTF-ELCAC's Barangay Development Program.

"Noong March, P3.3 billion; noong April ay P7.68 billion; noong Mayo P2 billion; noong Hunyo P3.41 billion. Mayroong P4B billion po na napunta sa Davao region baka makalimutan natin," said Drilon, citing the data from DBM.

"Ngunit itong ayudang kailangang-kailangan natin, wala tayong pera," Drilon said.

Drilon said that what we see in the government today strengthens the call for a budget for ayuda in the 2022 national budget.

"We must provide for SAP, not for anti-insurgency. I would like to see the 2022 national budget to give priority to 4Ps, the social amelioration program or ayuda, the health and education sectors," Drilon stressed.

This as he vowed to oppose any budget for NTF-ELCAC for 2022, which is an election year. Secretary Eduardo Ano recently said that they will propose P40 billion for NTF-ELCAC next year, double its present level of P19.2 billion.

Drilon also supports another round of "cash sweep" in order to generate funds to assist Filipinos and businesses heavily-affected by the pandemic, most especially when the country reverts to ECQ again this month.

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