Makabayan bloc lawmakers flagged the alleged "general's pork" in the 2023 Department of Interior and Local Government budget for some 959 barangays that have been supposedly cleared of local communist armed conflict.
This was revealed during the lines of questioning by Gabriela Rep. Arlene Brosas and ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro during the plenary deliberations of the 2023 Budget of the Department of Interior and Local Government at the House of Representatives.
Nueva Vizcaya Rep. Luisa Lloren Cuaresma spoke for the agency as the sponsor of its budget.
Brosas and Castro both complained of the vagueness of the qualification for a barangay to be considered a beneficiary. They also questioned the wide discretion over the funds by the implementing agencies.
"Ang laki-laki po ng discretion na binibigay natin dito sa NTF-ELCAC. Tinuturing po natin itong general's pork dahil sila po ang may power over billions of pesos to a mere task force not even an agency to extent may [say] sila kung saan mapupunta ang pera kaysa district congressmen," Castro said.
(We're giving too much discretion to NTF-ELCAC. We're considering this a general's pork because they have power over billions of pesos to a mere task force, not even an agency, to the extent that they have a say where the money goes instead of district congressmen.)
Brosas noted that the NTF-ELCAC also has P10B billion under the Barangay Development Program, which Cuaresma said was under the Department of Budget and Management and released directly to the local government units concerned as identified by the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
Brosas said that the Barangay Development Program budget rose 78% to 10B in 2023.
She then added that 261 barangays, the largest of the bunch, belong to Region 5.
The lawmaker said that unlike the previous budget, there is now a distinction between cleared and threatened barangays.