Pimentel: Bicam like 'third house of Congress'
MANILA — National Security Adviser Clarita Carlos said critics of the government's controversial anti-insurgency task force should "do their research or shut up" after it got back its original P10 billion budget for 2023.
Lawmakers earlier realigned P5 billion from the budget of the National Task Force to End Local Armed Conflict. But Congress’ Bicameral Conference Committee on Monday restored the NTF-ELCAC's budget to P10 billion while reconciling conflicting portions of the 2023 General Appropriations Act.
"Mabuti at na-restore na ito," Carlos told ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo.
(It's good that it was restored.)
A bigger budget for the NTF-ELCAC meant "deeper and wider" development efforts to counter the country's insurgency problem, she said.
Addressing the task force's supposed lack of budget transparency and its alleged move to declare some barangays as insurgency-free when they are not, Carlos said she had studied the group and found this was "not the case."
She said NTF-ELCAC funds are not coursed through the National Security Council and are instead "downloaded" to different agencies.
"Di naman puwedeng magbigay ka ng ganyang kalaking pera tapos wala lang, wala ka nang pakialam," she said.
(You can't give that enormous amount of money and no longer care about it.)
"People making those kinds of remarks, they better do their research or they should shut up."
The NTF-ELCAC previously drew criticism for the slow progress of its projects and for red-tagging activists, celebrities, and other groups.
Carlos said the task force was created because "the various agencies were not doing their job."
"That's the reason why, at a later time maybe in a couple of years, kapag na-embed na talaga... [insurgency] will cease to exist kasi parang catalyst lang siya," she said.
(Maybe in a couple of years, once it's really embedded, insurgency will cease to exist because it's only like a catalyst.)
The bicameral committee on Monday also restored the Department of Education's P150 million confidential fund.
"Masama ang loob namin diyan," Senate Minority Leader Koko Pimentel said in a separate TeleRadyo interview on Tuesday.
(We're disappointed about that.)
He had campaigned against the allocation of confidential funds in the DepEd, Office of the Vice President, and Office of the Solicitor General.
Pimentel said both chambers of Congress previously agreed on certain expenses, only to be changed at the bicam level.
"Ang nagbago ng isip ay 'yung bicam, hindi na 'yung House or Senate kasi nga pareho nang agreeing na sila roon. In that sense parang naging 'third house of Congress' ang bicam which they should not do," Pimentel said.
"Dapat may kaunting disiplina sa bicam. You focus on the disagreeing provisions," he added.
(The bicam is the one that changed its mind, not the House or Senate because both previously agreed on it. In that sense, the bicam seemed to have become the 'third house of Congress', which they should not do. The bicam should have some discipline.)