SENATOR Ronald M. dela Rosa sought the return of the P28-billion original allocation of an ad hoc anti-communist task force in the 2022 budget, saying it is needed to roll out economic and social programs in remote communities to fully address the roots of insurgency.
“Even though we are able to kill the last insurgent, but the root cause of (the) insurgency which is poverty and social injustice brought about decades of government neglect is not addressed, nothing will happen for our problem,” Mr. Dela Rosa, a former police chief and presidential candidate, said Thursday during Thursday’s plenary session.
Senator Juan Edgardo “Sonny” M. Angara, chair of the Senate finance committee, agreed with Mr. Dela Rosa’s position but reiterated that the problem is not the program per se but the task force’s failure to submit timely reports on its utilization of this year’s P19.3-billion budget.
Under the Senate version of the 2022 national budget, the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict’s (NTF-ELCAC) allocation was cut to P4 billion.
“Even the best programs on paper must be justified by the implementation,” said Mr. Angara, noting that if there is proof of good implementation then increased funding would not be a problem.
“In fact, we even left P4 billion despite not knowing, this is a blind allocation in effect,” he added.
The NTF-ELCAC fund is supposedly distributed to local governments for projects in areas that are declared free from communist insurgents.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon said these projects are just “duplications of the various department’s mandates.”
Meanwhile, the amount allocated to implement climate change initiatives needs to be increased, said Senator Francis N. Tolentino, citing that it may not be enough to fulfill the country’s international commitments.
“The Philippines plans to lead climate change response and mitigation but its budget is miniscule,” he said during the plenary session.
He noted that the Climate Change Commission only received a P140-million allotment, down from P237 million in 2016.
Mr. Angara, however, pointed out that there is a provision in the 2022 proposed budget that earmarks P284.5 million for each line agency’s climate change expenditures, including departments such as Agriculture, Foreign Affairs, Energy, among others.
He added that there would also be special-purpose funds that would tackle the adaption and mitigation of climate change.
Mr. Tolentino said it would still be insufficient in supporting the commitments made by Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III at the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), since it was only 5.5% of the national budget.
“The climate change summit will end tomorrow, and there will be commitments and signing activities that would implicate not just promissory initiatives on the part of the Philippine government but real tangible commitments, such as the budgetary making process,” Mr. Tolentino said.
“I endeavor the career members of the Cabinet economic cluster to take that in mind as you move along even though this is a swan song, that there will be commitment to have a net-zero greenhouse gas emissions target by 2050,” he said. — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan