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10月8日のまにら新聞から

Angara questions DBM request for P10 billion more for NTF-ELCAC

[ 522 words|2022.10.8|英字 (English) ]

Senator Juan Edgardo Angara on Thursday questioned the Department of Budget and Management’s (DBM) request for an additional P10 billion for the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).

During the Senate budget briefing, Budget Undersecretary Tina Rose Canda said that in 2020, DBM released P1.8 billion to NTF-ELCAC covering various agencies, but they did not have special purpose funds back then.

Canda said that by 2021, the total allocation of NTF-ELCAC increased because it included support for barangay development and special purpose funds.

“For 2021, Mr. Chairman, we already have an amount of P19.24 billion for releases for the whole. This includes P16.4 (billion) for the special purpose funds and the rest would be implementing agencies,” Canda said, addressing Angara.

Senator Nancy Binay noted that the ongoing projects are worth P2.9 billion and the completed projects are P 3.2 billion.

“That means not even 50 percent of the P16 billion was used. It’s like the projects are in limbo. How would you justify the additional P10 billion next year when you don’t even know what is going on with this budget?” Binay asked.

Canda responded: “The justification for the additional amounts correspond to the cleared barangays. So we allocated it based on the allocation of the NTF-ELCAC that the amount would be required for I think, initially P20 million. And then it was cut to P4 million. “

Binay requested for a list of the beneficiaries of the P10 billion funds the NTF-ELCAC is requesting for special purpose funds.

Canda said the beneficiaries were included in their submission but the actual projects were not identified.

Angara asked: “When would they (DBM) identify the projects?”

“Unfortunately, Mr. Chair, the projects are only identified only during implementation,” Canda replied.

"Isn't that a form of pork barrel that's frowned upon based on the Supreme Court’s definition?" Angara said.

Binay said that the DBM included a breakdown of their expenses, including an allocation for schools and roads.

Angara argued that the breakdown of the projects was only “indicative” and “not strictly followed”.

“They just made a menu which they can choose from. I see the minority leader, who’s a much better lawyer than I am, is agreeing that it’s a pork barrel based on the definition of the Supreme Court. Because, you know, when you pass the GAA (General Appropriations Act), there must be an identification of projects as much as possible unless the contingency has not arisen in case of the contingency funds,” he said.

Canda said the DBM gave the NTF-ELCAC some “leeway” because of the “intent of the funds”.

“However, we leave it to the discretion and the wisdom of the committee if certain adjustments in the amount should be done,” Canda said.

Angara said he wanted to support their budget but he wanted the DBM to give a detailed report on the NTF-ELCAC’s projects.

“We also want to support the program. Ma’am Usec. But let’s also apply the same standard across the board. And if you could give us as detailed a report as possible of the implementation of the programs, we would appreciate it,” Angara said. Jaspearl Tan/DMS