MANILA — Despite calls for its abolition due to its alleged practice of red-tagging, the controversial National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) has a slice of the Marcos administration's proposed 2023 national budget.
President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. explained that his government would uphold his predecessor Rodrigo Duterte's Executive Order 138 on the full transfer of certain national government functions to local government units, in accordance with the Supreme Court's Mandanas-Garcia ruling.
"To support this, the proposed 2023 National Budget sets aside Php 28.9 billion for the Local Government Support Fund (LGSF). This year's LGSF is Php 10.9 billion or 60.7 percent higher than the Php 18.0 billion appropriated in 2022," Marcos said in his budget message.
"The LGSF provides Php 10.0 billion for the Support to the Barangay Development Program of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC). This is on top of the Php 820.3 billion indicative just share of the LGUs from 2023 national tax collections," he added.
Marcos said Php 13.9 billion was also apportioned for the Growth Equity Fund (GEF) for projects of "poor, disadvantaged, and lagging LGUs to address issues of marginalization, unequal development, high poverty incidence, and disparities in their fiscal capacities."
"Our economic transformation agenda also contemplates full devolution to local government units. This allows them to directly implement programs and interventions tailor-fit to the needs of their constituents," Budget Secretary Amenah Pangandaman said as she submitted the proposed national budget to the House of Representatives on Monday morning.
Meanwhile, Deputy House Speaker and Batangas Fourth District Rep. Ralph Recto urged the government to fix "procurement fiascos and huge unobligated amounts" flagged by state auditors.
"The elephant in the room that must be addressed in this particular budget, through a budget provision outlawing the practice, is the parking of funds in the PS-DBM (Procurement Service of the Department of Budget and Management) and PITC (Philippine International Trading Corporation)," Recto said in a statement.
"There should be no repeat of last year’s budget utilization rate, when P784.8 billion remained undisbursed by end of the year, on top of P88.8 billion in unreleased appropriations," he continued.
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