Press Release
August 2, 2021

Drilon seeks COA special audit of NTF-ELCAC funds
Drilon says P40-B NTF-ELCAC proposed budget for 2022 is an election giveaway

Senate Minority Leader Franklin M, Drilon lambasted anew the government's plan to double the budget of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) to P40 billion in the upcoming National Expenditures Program (NEP) and called on the Commission of Audit (COA) to conduct a special audit on this year's anti-insurgency fund.

Citing an information that he received, Drilon said a source confirmed that the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) really more than doubled the NTF-ELCAC's budget in the to-be-submitted NEP for 2022. The current budget of the heavily-criticized task force is P19.2 billion, which includes more than P16 billion that were distributed to around 820 insurgency-free barangays nationwide.

"Let's not mince words: it's an election giveaway," Drilon said.

"That would be unacceptable in the face of growing threats of COVID-19 virus. That would be an injustice to 4.2 million families who experienced hunger and 3.73 million Filipinos who lost jobs to the pandemic in May," he said.

"It is an election year budget and it is obvious that the 100-percent increase in the NTF-ELCAC's budget is designed to woo voters," the minority leader added.

Drilon said it is lamentable that they will do it at the expense of other urgent priorities such as the much-needed ayuda and the country's growing budget deficit. The country's deficit stood at P761 billion in June amid low revenue collection due to the pandemic.

The Senate chief fiscalizer urged the COA to conduct a special audit of the P16.3 billion that were released under the Barangay Development Program, wherein around 820 barangays which are supposedly freed from insurgency would receive P20 million to fund various programs.

Some of the projects, according to Drilon, are "soft projects" that are prone to corruption such as livelihood and skills training programs, assistance to indigent individuals, educational assistance, medical assistance, burial assistance, seedlings and fertilizer distribution, and provision of agricultural farm inputs, among others.

"These soft programs are often the source of corruption as we have seen in the past. The COA knows the history of fertilizer fund scam and the TESDA ghost scholars. This is exactly the kind of system that is prone to corruption," Drilon said.

"I therefore urge COA to immediately conduct a special audit of NTF-ELCAC funds in order to guide Congress in crafting the 2022 national budget and, more important, to prevent corruption," Drilon said.

Drilon, however, vowed to oppose even a single centavo for NTF-ELCAC next year.

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