Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go said he supports a sufficient budget for the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), saying the task force’s role towards long-lasting peace and development must be sustained and pursued further.
Go, a member of the bicameral conference committee for the 2022 General Appropriations bill, urged fellow lawmakers to ensure that the NTF-ELCAC will have the necessary resources to continue its development assistance programs in conflict-affected areas.
“Being one of the members ng bicam, I pushed to reinstate or increase the NTF-ELCAC budget because it is successful. Not only to fight insurgency but to bring development down to the affected areas,” Go said in a recent media interview after visiting a fire-hit area in Manila.
Under the Senate’s final version of the proposed 2022 budget, it increased the NTF-ELCAC’s budget to P10.8 billion after it initially cut by P24 billion.
Senate finance committee chairman Senator Sonny Angara said P10 billion is for the NTF-ELCAC’s Barangay Development Program (BDP).
Go said there is a need to enable the task force to continue to discharge its mandate and implement its programs and projects effectively.
He added that there is also a need to push a whole-of-government approach to ending the insurgency that is fueled by decades of government neglect, social injustice, and poverty.
“In the neglected barangays, there is an insurgency because they felt they are neglected, no one pays attention so the Left entered. Let’s give them incentives,” Go said in Filipino.
Go noted the NTF-ELCAC’s many successes in bringing development closer to the people as he stressed the importance of reintegrating former rebels into the society by providing them means to make a living and overcome poverty.
“We are all Filipinos. Let’s give a chance to those who want to return to the fold of the law,” he said in Filipino.
He emphasized the urgent need to end decades of armed conflict, saying Filipinos should not kill each other.
In 2018, President Duterte signed Executive Order No. 70 which institutionalized a whole-of-nation approach to attaining inclusive and sustainable peace.
The order also directed the adoption of a National Peace Framework to ensure the harmonized and synchronized delivery of services in conflict-affected and vulnerable areas as well as provided for the creation of the NTF-ELCAC.
Under the BDP, communities cleared of New People’s Army influence and presence will be receiving five core programs worth PHP20 million per barangay which include farm-to-market roads, school buildings, water and sanitation systems, livelihood programs, and health stations.