House defers 2021 budget deliberations for NSC, NICA

Anjo Bagaoisan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 30 2020 06:19 AM

Makabayan bloc reps question NSC, NICA on alleged red-tagging

MANILA - After a 2-hour-long interpellation Tuesday night, the House of Representatives deferred its budget deliberations on the 2021 budgets of the National Security Council (NSC) and the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA). 

The move was called by Gabriela Rep. Arlene Brosas, who cited the agency's inability to submit a national peace framework. She said it was needed to form the basis for the operation of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC). 

Brosas and other members of the Makabayan bloc questioned Muntinlupa Rep. Ruffy Biazon, who stood as sponsor for the 2 agencies' proposed budgets on issues regarding the alleged targeting of left-leaning groups in the government's anti-communist campaign, as well as their stance on Chinese activities in the country. 

Biazon answered for national security advisor Sec. Hermogenes Esperon on Brosas' query over the Task Force's social media activities as red-tagging. 

"Mayroon hong information campaign na bahagi ng NTF-ELCAC. 'Di lang masabi kung 'yong partikular na bahagi ay parehong tinutukoy, but definitely part po ng kampanya to end local communist armed conflict is information campaign. Di maaalis yun," Biazon said. 

Brosas also raised Esperon's overseas trips where he allegedly hit at Makabayan bloc members for being connected to the local communist party. 

Biazon said it was not Esperon's intention to single out people. 

"Kung ang tanong kung ang pagbiyahe ni [Esperon] ay siraan ang organisasyon hindi ho yun ang layunin. Ang pagbiyahe naman po ay para tiyakin na ang mga suporta galing sa labas patungo sa mga local Communist terrorist groups ay mapigilan, yun ang layunin," Biazon said. 

Nevertheless, Brosas called out Esperon for inaction on alleged Chinese aggression before she moved to defer the budget deliberations. 

"Mabilis itong si Sec. Esperon sa baseless and dangerous accusations sa amin sa Makabayan bloc. Mabilis ipagtanggol ang Chinese presence military construction sa West Philippine Sea, mabilis depensahan construction ng towers ng Dito Telecommunity," she said. 

Meanwhile, Kabataan Rep. Sarah Elago called for responsibility on the part of NICA Director General Alex Paul Monteagudo in sharing what she termed as unreliable information from certain Facebook pages, such as an erroneous post saying she had COVID-19. 

Biazon, however, relayed Monteagudo's explanation that he was merely sharing intelligence information with his personnel. He added he did not know the people behind the Facebook pages despite sharing the posts.