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A House bicam panel will work to restore the NTF-ELCAC 2023 budget.

Zaldy Co, the chair of the House appropriations committee and a member of the Ako Party-list pledged on Wednesday to assist in restoring the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict’s (NTF-ELCAC) 2023 budget, which had previously been cut by the Senate and House of Representatives.

Co promised in a statement that, as directed by House Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez and Deputy Senior Majority Leader Ferdinand Alexander “Sandro” Marcos, the House bicameral panel will collaborate fairly with its Senate counterpart to restore the agency’s lowered budget.

“Congress acknowledges the crucial part the NTF-ELCAC plays in putting an end to the nation’s protracted insurgency. In the bicameral conference committee, we will persuade our Senate counterparts to reinstate the agency’s projected budget. The National Expenditure Program the administration gave to Congress made it apparent that this was one of President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr.’s top priorities, he added.

In light of this, Co advised the NTF-ELCAC leadership to expedite project execution and consider working with organizations like the Department of Public Works and Highways, which are better suited to handle project procurement and implementation.

The congressman voiced alarm about the fact that, as of 2021, the NTF-ELCAC has only finished less than half, or 48%, of the projects included in its Support for Barangay Development Program (SBDP), with the other 50% still in progress and the other 2% still in the procurement phase.

“In 2022, the situation will be significantly worse. According to data my office has received, only 2% of NTF-2022 ELCAC’s projects have been finished or are currently in progress. Even though it is now December, a staggering 98 percent of the projects are still in the pre-procurement or procurement stages.

Co said that the NTF-ELCAC needs to work more to make the most of the funds Congress has provided, or else they will simply be returned to the national treasury rather than being used to help the Filipino people who require more and better social services.

The money, he continued, is “extremely vital” since it would be given to various organizations for administrative and operational costs when the task force’s Barangay Development Programβ€”which consists of numerous support initiatives for barangays considered free of communist rebelsβ€”is put into action.

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