MANILA - Proposals to defund the country' anti-insurgency council is a "knee-jerk" reaction that would remove budget for far-flung barangays, a lawmaker said Wednesday.
Some senators earlier called for the realignment of the P19 billion budget of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) following its red-tagging against community pantry organizers.
Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez said the fund will be used to for "school buildings, waters system, and road system" of barangays that have been cleared of insurgency.
"This will be given to these who have already been as declared communist-insurgency free. This is to bring money to the far-flung barangays, where practically government has been unable to reach as needed. I believe that there has to be also proper investigation. Has this money been earmarked, given properly?" he told ANC's Headstart.
"I'm from Mindanao, farthest flung from Metro Manila. Unless it is shown that this money has been diverted to purposes not germane to what it is for then it has to remain, and it has to be given so we can have affirmative action in far-flung barangays all over the country."
Rodriguez said he has also filed a House resolution urging the National Bureau of Investigation and the Commission on Human Rights to investigate the alleged red-tagging against community pantry organizers.
Two community pantry organizers from his home province have been harassed and red-tagged, according to Rodriguez.
One was visited by local policemen in their restaurant while another became the subject of leaflets alleging they are communists, the lawmaker said.
"The giving of food by citizens of this country is an act which per se is not illegal, not connected with ideology. Instead of red-tagging them, harassing them, government should be able to support them," Rodriguez said.