Read in: Pilipino
Under the 2021 General Appropriations Act, the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) got ₱16.4 billion for its so-called Barangay Development Program (BDP). In its BDP, the NTF-ELCAC lists 822 barangays “cleared of NPA presence” which will supposedly get ₱20 million each, with ₱12 million specified for road projects, and the rest for school buildings and other programs.
Looking at the 2021 GAA, however, the CPP Information Bureau and Ang Bayan found out that at least 62 or 7.5% of the barangays listed by the NTF-ELCAC in its BDP already had road projects or so-called “farm to market roads” worth ₱921 million under the 2021 GAA. <Complete list: Download>
Ten of these barangays are in Davao Occidental and nine are in Davao City. The biggest concentration of double-budgeted barangays is in Paquibato District, Davao City with five. All in all, the barangays which the NTF-ELCAC double-budgeted are distributed in 22 provinces and cities, with 10 in Davao Occidental, nine in Davao City, five in Negros Occidental, four each in Benguet and Rizal, and three in Abra, Agusan del Norte and Bukidnon (see table below for distribution).
In total, the NTF-ELCAC’s double budgeting can amount to at least P768 million, assuming P12 million is alloted for road projects. It can go higher if the road project will be declared to be more than P12 million. By double-budgeting, the the NTF-ELCAC can declare a road project to be funded or co-funded under the BDP without actually disbursing money as funds will already come from the agency which the GAA allocates money to. In connivance with officials of other agencies and contractors, invoking the “whole of nation approach,” the NTF-ELCAC can withdraw these funds, and save or spend the money elsewhere.
This form of corruption is usually carried out through lump-sum budgetary items such as those of the NTF-ELCAC which some senators warned against during the budgetary hearings. Such forms of corruption become worse as it involves military and police officials who are given extraordinary powers as “counterinsurgency” becomes the central tenet of the regime.
It is condemnable how the NTF-ELCAC plunders hundreds of millions of pesos of public money even as it carries out a vicious and deadly campaign of mass killings and mass arrests to crack down against all forms of criticism and dissent.