With elections nearing, NTF-ELCAC is hungry for funds
With the 2022 elections just a year away, Duterte’s favorite generals in the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) are determined to keep the anomalous funds of the Barangay Development Program in their aim to impose the military’s political influence in several hundred barangays.
Officers of the NTF-ELCAC are making up all sort of justifications to keep the BDP funds despite questions over corruption in the disbursement of their ₱16.4 billion lump-sum fund.
It is also highly irregular that more than ₱10 billion or 60% of these funds were released by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) in a span of a few weeks. This also reveals the Duterte regime’s perverted priorities amid the pandemic.
The NTF-ELCAC generals want to use these funds to more effectively control different agencies of government as well as local government units. These funds are being used by the NTF-ELCAC to expand the role of the military in civilian life in the guise of “counterinsurgency” and the “whole of nation approach.”
The NTF-ELCAC’s use of the BDP as pork barrel funds are clearly exposed by its release of funds without coordination with local government officials and despite having no specific projects or feasibility studies. This is a hallmark of corruption.
In truth, some of the barangays listed in the NTF-ELCAC’s “beneficiaries” are not at all NPA areas. These non-NPA barangays include Barangay Baluarte (Salcedo, Ilocos Sur) and Barangay Nagbettedan (Santo Domingo, Ilocos Sur).
Its BDP only aims to conceal the deep-seated socioeconomic problems of the peasants and minority people with road projects that do not resolve the oppressive and exploitative system that pushes them to join the armed resistance.
The NTF-ELCAC will surely fail in its declared aims of putting an end to the revolutionary armed struggle before the end of Duterte’s term or even beyond.