Solon eyes P1 budget for NSC over NTF-ELCAC funds

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 29 2021 09:48 PM

MANILA - A lawmaker has proposed a one-peso budget for the National Security Council (NSC) in 2022.

Gabriela Party-list Rep. Arlene Brosas flagged the NSC over a Department of Budget and Management circular that modified the Barangay Development Program under the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) in the 2021 General Appropriations Act, which extended the validity of the funds beyond what is provided in the law.

Among others, the budget circular also put the funds under the provincial government, allowed the tapping of the Armed Forces of the Philippines Engineering Brigade by local government units for the projects and empowered the regional task forces to end local communist armed conflict to endorse the request by identified barangays for the release of funds.

Speaking for the NSC in defense of its 2022 budget at the House, Muntinlupa Rep. Ruffy Biazon explained the circular only provided a mechanism for the availment of the funds.

"Yun pong nilabas diyan sa nabanggit natin na mga guidelines ay para magkaroon ng mechanism sa pag-release ng pondo patungo doon sa barangays na nangangailangan ng development projects. The issuance is to ensure that the program of government of bringing to the brgys much needed projects that would help end conflict those barangays. Ito po ay masasabi natin na paraan para ma-achieve ang isang objective na ninanais ng ating pamahalaan," he explained.

Brosas however found this unacceptable since the DBM appeared to have gone beyond the mandate of the national budget which is a congressional act.

"Specifically, hindi natin maunawaan kung bakit mas makapangyarihan ang circular ng DBM kaysa GAA. Kung papansinin niyo ang validity of funds ng NTF-ELCAC, na lampas lampas yun kung saan nakasaad sa ating GAA. Dec. 2021 lang po ang GAA natin, pero ito, lalampas ng 2022. Ibig sabihin, bagong kongreso na po yun, ibig sabihin, bagong pangulo na rin po yun. Saan hinugot ang ganitong kapangyarihan? Wala pa pong gumagawa nito. Sa lahat ng mga administrasyon. Ganito ba ka-special ang NTF-ELCAC? Mas mataas pa ito sa batas at sa lahat ng ahensya ng gobyerno?" she asked.

Biazon explained that the NTF-ELCAC does not have the funds.

"Kailangan lang po natin tandaan at balikan na yung pondo ay hindi naman po para sa NTF-ELCAC. No funds are relased to the task force. Ang mga funds na po yan ay diretso sa local government units ang pag-release. At ang implementation ay doon sa LGU. We just want to make it clear, kasi kung yung NTF ELCAC ay parang special, it is not special. Wala ho doon narerelease na pondo sa NTF-ELCAC," he said.

National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon is the vice-chair of the NTF-ELCAC.

Brosas questioned the wide berth the NTF-ELCAC has over these funds.

"NTF-ELCAC ang naghe-head at nagsasabi kung saan dapat ilagay ang pondo. Actually, mas matindi pa nga yun di ba? Ang DBM, ang siyang magsasabi at yung NTF-ELCAC ang magsasabi kung cleared iyung brgys at kung saang DBP yun. Di po ba napaka-powerful nun? Tapos extended hanggang 2022 at sila lang magsasabi kung alin lang mga lugar at brgy na dapat bigyan ng P20-million kada barangay. So actually, ang question natin dito ay validity talaga ng NTF-ELCAC funds," she said.

Biazon then pointed out that lawmakers agreed with this when the budget was approved.

"Allocations of these programs was approved by Congress, so it is assumed that the members of the House, majority agreed with that allocation. Wala naman ho sigurong naging problema kung otherwise mas maraming members of Congress tumutol sa programang ito. Di rin naman natin masabi na di naconsider yung point of view of the representatives of the people. Dahil ung programa na ito ay may kinalaman sa pagsulong sa kapayanaan," he explained.

Brosas floated the idea of giving the NSC a one-peso budget.

"I am really not satisfied, sa totoo lang po dapat gawing piso ang budget ng NSC. Dahil alam po natin kung saan mapupunta ang pondo ng mamamayan kung magpapakalat lang ng fake news at red tagging," she said.