MANILA — Vice President Leni Robredo on Thursday called on the government to use the anti-insurgency task force's funds to finance aid for those who will be affected by the upcoming lockdown.
"Nabalitaan natin recently ‘yung pag-release ng bilyon-bilyong pondo para sa National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC). Habang hindi pa tayo nakakaahon mula sa pandemya, ipagpaliban muna natin ito at tiyakin na walang Pilipinong magugutom," Robredo said in a statement Thursday.
[We recently learned that billions of funds have been released for NFT-ELCAC. But while we have yet to recover from the pandemic, let's set aside some of anti-insurgency efforts to ensure no Filipino would go hungry.]
This, as she called for faster distribution of cash aid or ayuda among those to be affected by the impending lockdown in Metro Manila beginning Friday until the following 2 weeks.
"Sa panahong ito, dapat wala tayong ibang priority kundi ‘yung makapagbigay ng agarang tulong sa mga pamilyang apektado ng lockdown, lalo na ‘yung mga nawalan ng kabuhayan," Robredo said.
[During this time, we should not prioritize anything else but to extend help to families, especially those who will lose their livelihood during the lockdown.]
Home to some 13 million people, Metro Manila will be under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), the toughest of 4 lockdown levels, from Aug. 6 to 20 to arrest rising infections driven by the more contagious Delta COVID-19 variant.
Robredo underscored that the national government should already have a mechanism for efficient aid disbursement, given that this was not the first time parts of the country would be under ECQ.
"Pang-ilang ECQ na natin ito, so we expect na sana by now, naplantsa na natin ‘yung proseso at sistema ng delivery ng assistance. Ayuda muna bago ang lahat," she added.
The government has approved aid of P1,000 each for 1 million residents in need in areas under the strictest COVID-19 lockdown, Malacañang said last Thursday. Up to 4 members of a family can get the P1,000 in aid per person.
The Makabayan bloc on Wednesday called the one-time P1,000 cash aid a "pittance."
The NTF-ELCAC was allotted some P16 billion this year and is asking for P40 billion in next year's budget.
Reacting to Robredo's statement, Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the Vice President was simply "politicking."
"Hay, naku. Napapagod na po akong sumagot. Sabihin na lang niya nang sabihin ang gusto niyang sabihin... Alam ko panahon ng eleksyon pero hindi po nangangako ng hindi maibibigay ngayon ang ating gobyerno,” Roque said.