₱16.44-billion budget to address political security threat – Esperon


The communist insurgency in the country is an “immediate” political security threat that must be resolved in the last two years of President Duterte’s term.


This was disclosed by National Security Adviser (NSA) Hermogenes Esperon Jr. Friday as he defended the ₱16.44-billion budget allocation of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTFELCAC) for its “support operations” to the Barangay Development Program in 2021.

According to Esperon, while the COVID-19 pandemic remains to be the “most urgent” threat that the country currently faces other concerns, such as the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing New People’s Army (NPA), should not be taken for granted.

“But we still have other concerns. Number one is the political security threat, it is actually the CPP-NPA because they seek to overthrow the democratic form of government and change it to what they call democratic centralism or dictatorship,” he added.

“This is not at all (a) lump sum allocation,” he said.

“That is just to signify that they all fall under the Barangay Development Program,” he added.

Esperon said the ₱16.44 billion worth of funds is not pork barrel and added that they are just implementing programs that will help put an end to the armed conflict in Mindanao.

“Hindi ko alam yung pork barrel na sinasabi niyo. Kami po ay nagpapatupad lang ng programa (I don’t even know anything about that pork barrel stuff. We are just implementing programs),” he said.

“Kung meron mang isang tao na gustong wakasan ang communist armed conflict, isa po ako doon (If there is one person who really wants to end the communist armed conflict, it’s me. I’m one of those people),” he added.

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon and Bayan Muna Rep. Ferdinand Gaite had questioned the NTF-ELCAC’s allocated budget for the Barangay Development Program, saying that other government agencies directly affected by the COVID19 pandemic have been given lower budgets.

Accordingly, these agencies include the Department of Labor and Employment (₱15.9 billion), Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (₱7.5 billion), Department of Tourism (₱3.5 billion), and Department of Trade and Industry (₱5.5 billion).

In his webinar, Esperon invited lawmakers, Gaite, who have expressed reservations about the NTF-ELCAC’s budget to witness the implementation of the said projects.

Esperon questioned the motives behind Gaite’s comments on the budget allocation and accused him of objecting to the empowerment and development of vulnerable communities.

Esperon said that the Barangay Development Program seeks to deliver development programs in conflicted and geographically isolated areas as part of counter-measures against communist insurgency.

Esperon argued that eliminating communist insurgency is one of the priorities of Duterte which, according to the security adviser, was made clear during the State of the Nation Address (SONA) last July.

From 2016 to 2019, Esperon said a total of 822 barangay were already cleared of communist insurgency by joint government forces.

In support to the Barangay Development Program, each cleared barangay will be given ₱20 million for the construction of various infrastructures, including a concrete farm-to market road (₱12 million), a school building with four classrooms (₱3 million), water and sanitation systems (₱2 million), national greening or forest protection program (₱1.5 million), and health stations (₱1.5 million).

“What they (lawmakers) do not know is that this fund, ₱20 million per barangay, comes from the different agencies but are converts or coordinated by NF-ELCAC. This will be released to the regions where the barangays are located,” Esperon said.

Source: https://mb.com.ph/2020/09/11/p16-44-billion-budget-to-address-political-security-threat-esperon/


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