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Senate, House leaders seek NTF-ELCAC compromise

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The Senate and the House of Representatives have agreed to enter a compromise on the fate of the P28.1-billion fund that is being proposed for the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) for 2022.

Several lawmakers are against the earmarking of that big budget for the NTF-ELCAC.

Senator Sonny Angara, however, emerged from the initial bicameral conference committee hearing in Mandaluyong City hopeful of an agreement between both Chambers.

“As always, every year there are two versions of the budget from the House and the Senate. Our job in the bicam is to reconcile the conflicting provisions in it. One of them this year is the NTF-ELCAC,” he said.

“The House provided its full allocation under the proposed NEP (National Expenditure Program) whereas, in the Senate, we initially cut it but later added more funding. I think some of my colleagues are rallying to further raise its appropriations,” he added.

The two chambers of Congress opened the bicameral conference committee meeting earlier in the day to reconcile the disagreeing provisions in their versions of the 2022 General Appropriations Bill (GAB).

The country’s anti-insurgency arm could receive P28 billion from the Lower House’s version of the budget bill, but the Senate wants to give it only P10.8 billion, which is an improved amount from the P4 billion it had initially wanted to be allocated for the NTF-ELCAC.

Several legislators earlier lauded the significant cut in the budget of NTF-ELCAC but Senator Ronald “Bato” de la Rosa, who defended the budget of the Department of National Defense, thumbed down the development saying that reducing its funding would mean a “win” for the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA).

The bicameral conference committee is expected to ratify the budget measure on Monday, 13 December.

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