MANILA - Interior Secretary Eduardo Año denied Monday that the P16.4-billion budget proposal for government's anti-insurgency task force was "pork barrel."
The Makabayan bloc in the House of Representatives criticized the budget allotted to the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), which they claim have been falsely tagging several lawmakers as communist leaders.
Año said a P20-million cap will be given to fund development in 822 "isolated and far-flung" barangays that were cleared of communist insurgency from 2016 to 2019.
"This is not what we call a pork barrel or lump sum because projects are itemized and there will be strict monitoring and implementation of these projects," he told ANC.
Año said a "specific menu" of projects will be presented to the barangays which will contain programs such as farm to market roads, water and sanitation, health stations, and agriculture and livelihood, among others.
"They have been neglected for a long time that’s why the NPA (New People's Army) were able to place these barangays under their influence," he said.