Makabayan bloc seeks realignment of more NTF-ELCAC, surveillance funds in 2023 budget

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 06 2022 09:11 PM

Makabayan bloc party list groups are insisting on taking more funds away from the government’s National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict and the confidential and intelligence funds.

The bloc's lawmakers found the P77.5 billion institutional amendments that the House of Representatives approved in the 2023 General Appropriations Bill to be wanting.

House Deputy Minority Leader and ACT Teachers Partylist Rep. France Castro said the amendment was but “a small positive step in having a national budget more attuned for the needs of the Filipino people,"

"But it is still wanting because, yes it granted PGH P500 million additional funds but it needs P4.587 billion for 2023. It is also not clear if this is just Capital Outlay or the P37 million budget cut in the MOOE was restored,” Castro added.

“As for COVID benefits of health workers, ang sabi ng DOH ang kailangan ay P76.5 billion para may budget buong 2023. Kahit tanggapin na natin na P18.96 billion ay Unprogrammed Appropriations kailangan pa rin ng P37.6 billion. Malayo sa P5 billion na dagdag,” Castro said.

“Ang social pension, P5 billion lang dagdag. Ang budget niya sa NEP ay P25.3 billion. Ang amount dumoble dahil sa pinasang batas. Kulang ang P5 billion. Kung sa DepEd school facilities ang panawagan natin ay dagdagan ng P20 billion; ang binigay ay P10 billion lang,” Castro said.

Castro called on the bicameral conference that will be called after the Senate approves its version of the budget to do more by tapping the funds of the NTF-ELCAC and the government’s confidential and intelligence funds.

"Though these amendments are still not final and can still be changed in the bicameral meeting, we hope that these allotments can still be increased by realigning the P9.26 billion of intelligence and confidential funds as well as the remaining funds for the NTF-ELCAC as well as other unnecessary funds to basic services,” Castro said.

Kabataan Partylist welcomed the partial reflection of its proposed amendments.

Kabataan however maintained that many programs under the youth agenda remain without sufficient funding.

“In particular, we are deeply disappointed in how cuts against SUCs across the board have not been restored. Worse, our proposed new items to ensure safe school reopening have not been granted. This can spell disaster for the self-declared November deadline of DepEd for 100% face-to-face classes," Kabataan said in a statement.

Kabataan believes more funds from the confidential, intelligence and NTF-ELCAC may be tapped.