A House leader defended the decision of the House of Representatives to restore P10-billion in the budget of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), as well as the P150 million confidential funds of the Department of Education (DepEd).
According to House Appropriations Committee chairman Ako Bicol Rep. Zaldy S. Co, the decision of the lower house to restore DepEd’s CIF aims to “secure the future of the children.”
“That’s the decision of the House because it would be more difficult if our children are recruited and led to the wrong path. So we want the DepEd to spearhead, we want them to secure the future of our children,” he stressed.
Co stressed that school children , especially in the provinces, are being targeted for recruitment by rebel groups. “Our young students should be taught early in life about the perils of joining illegal organizations whose aim is to overthrow the duly-constituted government,” he explained.
He cited similar reasons for restoring the budget of the anti-insurgency group NTF-ELCAC.
“Many of those in cities and urban areas do not appreciate efforts to end the insurgency. But those in the countryside are sick and tired of oppressive revolutionary taxes, destruction of infrastructure, power lines and cell towers. Often, poor farmers and fishefolk are even forced to give the food on their table to the rebels. Pagkaing isusubo na lang ng mahihirap nating kababayan, inaagaw pa ng mga rebelde,” Co stressed.
The solon believed on the purpose and work of NTF-ELCAC which is to help end insurgency and improve barangays in the countryside is much appreciated.
“That’s why we supported the restoration of the agency’s budget. They play an indispensable role in rural communities,” he said.
Meanwhile, he urged the NTF-ELCAC to hasten implementation of its projects this year. He noted that only two percent had been completed or still ongoing, while 98 percent were either in the procurement stage or not even there.
One suggestion is for NTF-ELCAC to partner with agencies like the Department of Public Works and Highways which has the expertise in handling procurement and project implementation.