MANILA — The House of Representatives' appropriations panel chair wants the government to justify the P28.1 billion it allocated for the controversial anti-insurgency task force for 2022.
Budget panel chair ACT-CIS Rep. Eric Go Yap said they would need clarification as to why the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) should be granted the amount, despite calls for its abolition due to alleged harassment of government critics.
Yap also said they would seek justification for the P8.6 billion sought for intelligence and confidential expenses.
"Iyang mga question na 'yan siguro kaya po tayo magkakaroon ng deliberation... The agency should justify, kasi kung di nila maja-justify sa amin 'yung needs kung bakit ganiyan kalaki ang ELCAC and bakit ganiyan kalaki ang confidential fund, we will slash it and dadalhin kung saan namin nakikitang mas kailangan ng mga Pilipino," Yap said.
(Those questions may go through deliberations. The agency should justify why they need such a big amount, and we will slash it and send the funds where we see Filipinos need them more.)
Malacañang said on Tuesday terrorism defied the COVID-19 pandemic which is why they are asking for some P36 billion in intelligence, confidential, and counter-insurgency funds for next year.
Yap expects intense scrutiny of the budget even as he allayed fears that it may be used by politicians seeking posts in 2022.
The budget hearings will begin Thursday as the House committee on public accounts and the Senate hold separate investigations into red flags raised by the Commission on Audit (COA) on how the COVID-19 funds were spent last year.