Leyte Rep. Lucy Torres-Gomez rejected calls to defund the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), saying that is not the appropriate action to “vent frustration” over red-tagging.
The call was triggered by the alleged red-tagging of community pantry organizers by NTF-ELCAC spokesperson, Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade.
She said that the current P16-billion budget of the agency has already benefited numerous barangays that were once infiltrated or influenced by the communist insurgency.
“The P16-billion budget earmarked for the Barangay Development Program, which is a cornerstone in this success, has helped many former rebels transition to regular folks. This is a major headway towards achieving peace, especially in the countryside,” Gomez said.
Gomez said the government can still support community pantries, even as it continues its “successful programs towards peace” through the NTF-ELCAC.
She added that while she strongly agrees that public officials should be held accountable for their actions and statements, “rational actions must be made so as not to jeopardize localized programs to end insurgency.”
Another lawmaker who has rejected calls to defund NTF-ELCAC is Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa.
“A huge portion of the NTF-ELCAC’s budget goes to the development of barangays cleared of insurgencies. Now if the government will retract this promised development when the people there have been waiting for it, what will likely happen? If that’s the case, the people will consider to support the New People’s Army (NPA) again. The communist terrorists will benefit,” he said in a statement in Filipino.
The call to defund the NTF-ELCAC was triggered by the alleged red-tagging of community pantry organizers by Parlade.
For his part, Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade Jr., the spokesperson for the NTF ELCAC warned lawmakers on the dangers of defunding the agency.
“Do our senators really want this insurgency to go on by defunding the NTF ELCAC? Do we want more civilians killed by these NPAs? Do we not want these NPA rebels to go back to the fold of the law instead by continuing with our NTF ELCAC programs like E-CLIP and Localized Peace Engagement?“ he said. SOVEREIGNPH