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Drilon questions seeming rush to release anti-communist agency’s funds

SENATE PRIB

SENATE Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon questioned the government’s speedy release of the anti-communism agency’s 2021 budget, noting that over half of its fund had already been released. In a statement, Mr. Drilon said the fund released to the National Task Force to End Local Communism and Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) has already reached P10.68 billion as of April out of its P19-billion budget for 2021, citing data from the Budget department. The opposition senator cited in comparison the slower pace of disbursements for the rehabilitation of Marawi City that was ravaged in 2017. “Why is there a seeming rush to release the budget? Why has the release of the Marawi rehabilitation fund been slow? Where will the P10.68 billion be used?” Mr. Drilon said in Filipino. The senator said P7.54 billion out of the P10.68 billion was released in April only and P3.14 billion was given out on March 24. Mr. Drilon said addressing the coronavirus and its effects such as employment and hunger should be prioritized. “Yet, the government is giving priority to NTF-ELCAC’s anti-insurgency program rather than use the funds to expand ayuda (cash aid), buy vaccines and feed the poor,” he said. He said the Senate should scrutinize the use of the funds and compel the task force to submit a report to Congress as part of its oversight function. Mr. Drilon previously proposed to realign the budget of the NTF-ELCAC for financial aid to Filipinos most affected by the pandemic. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas

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