MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday told lawmakers he may push through with his Senate run next year if they refuse to reverse the budget cut of the government's anti-insurgency task force.
He issued the remarks despite having already filed a certificate of candidacy for senator under the Pederalismo ng Dugong Dakilang Samahan.
The National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflicts' (NTF-ELCAC) is set to get a P10.8 billion budget next year, based on the latest version approved by the Senate, which is down from the P30.45 billion originally stated in the General Appropriations Bill.
Senate Finance Committee chairman Sonny Angara defended his panel’s stand on the NTF-ELCAC budget, citing the government’s need to look for funds to support the country’s other pressing problems.
In a speech at an NTF-ELCAC meeting in Zamboanga City, Duterte said, "Puwede ba palitan n’yo iyong mga senador?"
(Can you replace the senators?)
"Kailangan ma-restore ‘yan," he said of the task force's budget.
(That should be restored.)
Duterte, who is barred by the Constitution from seeking reelection, said in October he would retire from politics when his term ends in June next year. But he registered as a substitute candidate for senator last Nov. 15.
"Ako, ayaw ko. Pero they’re trying to derail the, itong ELCAC... Kung ganito ang takbo, I’ll be forced really to run for senator, maski number 10 ako," he said.
(I do not want to. But they're trying to detail this ELCAC. If things go on like this, I’ll be forced really to run for senator, even if I make it to number 10.)
"I have had my glories in life, the adulation. Tapos na ako d’yan (I am done with that)," he continued.
The government has completed only 1 percent of barangay development projects meant to curb insurgency under the NTF-ELCAC, the interior department said in mid-November.
The NTF-ELCAC earlier faced calls to be scrapped, following its red-tagging of female celebrities, some lawmakers, and Senate workers, among others.