The P16.5-billion budget earmarked for the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC)’s Barangay Development Program go directly to local government units, National Commission on Indigenous Peoples chair Allen Capuyan said yesterday.
Capuyan, who is also the NTF-ELCAC executive director, made this remark in response to some lawmakers’ call to defund the NTF-ELCAC, stressing that reallocating the budget would mean questioning the intentions of LGU officials and their constituents.
Since the funds directly go to LGUs, he noted that the Indigenous Cultural Communities and Indigenous Peoples are also beneficiaries of the NTF-ELCAC’s BDP.
“If the BDP will be defunded, it is as if we questioned the local chief executives and the masses of the opportunity to implement the long-needed government services in the countryside, especially to our neglected ICCs/IPs ancestral domains,” Capuyan said in a statement.
The NTF-ELCAC has been allocated a budget of P19-billion for 2021. Of this amount, around P16.5-billion has been allocated for its BDP.
He said the P16.5 billion intended for 822 barangays directly benefit at least 350 ancestral domains all over the country that have been long neglected of development.
“The funds go directly to the provincial government or city government that has BDP projects directly coming from the Department of Budget and Management,” he said.
Capuyan said none of the BDP funds pass through the NTF-ELCAC.
“None of these funds passes through NTF-ELCAC and the projects to be implemented are socio-economics, infrastructure, livelihood and assistance,” he added.
Capuyan noted that there is “nothing political” in choosing barangays because these are historical lists of cleared barangays from 2016 to 2019 as a result of the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ operations through the conduct of community support program now enhanced by the Department of the Interior and Local Government through the revised CSP.
He also emphasized the need to correct what he described as “propaganda” spread by the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front, through their fronts, that the NTF-ELCAC is red-tagging them.
“The NTF-ELCAC is just informing the Filipino people that these open organizations were created by the party, led by the party, and operated by the CPP through their underground organizations under the NDF, and these open organizations are under the umbrella of Bayan,” Capuyan said.
He acknowledged that not all members of Bayan are communists, but pointed out that “they are all candidates for recruitment into the party” and “participants to mobilizations for the future conduct of general uprising against government.”
As long as minimum health and safety protocols are observed, Capuyan said NTF-ELCAC stakeholders support efforts to put up community pantries to feed those severely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The entire NTF-ELCAC stakeholders especially the Department of National Defense, AFP, DILG, Philippine National Police and the local governments support community pantries and related activities but with strict observance to government protocols and guidance,” he said.
Several lawmakers from both the Senate and House of Representatives have sought to withdraw funding for the NTF-ELCAC following its alleged red-tagging of community pantry organizers.
They suggested reallocating the P19-billion budget to fund assistance to people affected by the pandemic.
Malacañang earlier called the proposal “unjustified”, as the NTF-ELCAC’s funds are being used to develop areas that are now communist-free.*PNA