MANILA - The Department of the Interior and Local Government denied Monday that billions of pesos in anti-insurgency funds allocated to the Davao Region will be used in the 2022 polls.
Davao Region received P4.3 billion of P16.24 billion funding for the government's anti-insurgency campaign including P1.64 billion for Davao City, which is the hometown of President Rodrigo Duterte, two government bodies confirmed Monday.
National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict spokesperson Joel Egco said the government did not favor Davao when it allocated billions in funds to the area.
"Wala pong pinapaboran dito kung hindi yung (No one is favored here except) most of the barangays is that where, as you said, used to be under [the influence of communist terrorists] ay nandun sa (are in) Davao City. That's the only reason there. Davao provinces, I mean," Egco told ANC's "Rundown".
He noted that 4 of 5 guerrilla fronts were operating in Davao Region.
Under the Barangay Development Program, villages cleared of "communist influence" were given P20 million for various projects, such as farm-to-market roads, school buildings and livelihood projects.
DILG acting spokesperson Odilon Pasaraba denied the funds will be used for election purposes.
"There are accountability mechanisms in place. The spending of the funds is managed by the recipient barangays themselves, not the DILG, nor the NTF-ELCAC. That's to be underscored," he said.
"Allegations such as these are clear attempts to discredit the working strategy and the principles involved in this project," he added.
President Duterte has said he would run for the country's second highest position in next year's elections.
His daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, has also been rumored to be eyeing the presidency, which could pave the way for the two Dutertes to occupy the 2 highest seats in the country.
P40 BILLION IN ANTI-INSURGENCY FUNDS IN 2022
For 2022, the DILG said it was eyeing around P40-billion development fund for villages cleared of insurgency.
Egco said some 2,000 barangays from Bicol and Western Visayas were set to benefit from the funding.
"This problem of communist terrorism, alam mo, ibang klaseng virus ito (you know what, this is a different type of virus)," he said when asked to answer criticisms that the anti-insurgency funds were bigger than funding allocated for vaccine procurement.
"This is a virus that has been here for more than 5 decades already. If you're not going to do something about this now, it might continue on pa."
"I don't think there's a problem with the prioritization of budget here. The government's responding very well to the pandemic," he added.