Solon questions P1.6 billion in NTF-ELCAC funds for Davao City next year

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 06 2021 06:58 PM | Updated as of Sep 07 2021 08:52 AM

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MANILA - A party-list lawmaker on Monday questioned the allocation next year of about P1.6 billion from the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) for barangays in Davao City, President Rodrigo Duterte’s hometown. 

At the House Appropriations Committee's hearing on the Department of the Interior and Local Government’s (DILG) 2022 proposed budget, ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro noted that 81 barangays in Davao City got about P1.6 billion, or 10 percent of the NTF-ELCAC’s proposed budget. 

Castro asked Interior Secretary Eduardo Año if this meant that the government failed to care for the 81 barangays.

She also expressed concern that those funds may be used by some candidates for the 2022 national and local elections.

Año, a former Armed Forces chief, said Davao City is larger than the National Capital Region in land area, citing as an example Paquibato District which he said was a forest with many far-flung areas under the influence allegedly of communist rebels, a problem that has persisted for several decades.

He said the fund allocation has nothing to do with politicians in the area, as these covered barangays have been under the influence of communist rebels from 2013 to 2016. 

Año added that many barangays in the area have already been cleared.

He said they can justify the grant of barangay development program funds for each barangay.

Año said the barangays that received NTF-ELCAC funds do not have a large number of voters. 

Castro asked the DILG to submit the justification as she noted that the list of barangays in Davao City that will receive NTF-ELCAC funds spanned two pages.

Duterte was Mayor of Davao City from February 5, 1988 to June 30, 1988, July 1, 2001 to June 30, 2010, and July 1, 2013 to June 30, 2016. He was vice mayor of the city from July 1, 2010 to June 30, 2013.

His children have now taken leadership positions in the city — Sara Duterte-Carpio as mayor, Sebastian Duterte as vice mayor, and Paolo Duterte as representative in the House.