ACT slams P36B
budget for NTF-ELCAC amid calamity fund cut, measly pay hike
Alliance of Concerned
January 21, 2020
QUEZON CITY – The
Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Philippines slammed President
Duterte’s granting of P36.439 billion to the National Task Force to
End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), a formation that was
built to implement the ‘Whole-of-Nation’ approach to ending
insurgency in the country as directed by Duterte’s EO 70.
The task force’s budget
was P3 billion more than the P33.2 billion provided for the 2020 pay
hike of civilian government employees, and was P20 billion more than
the P16 billion 2020 calamity fund, after it was slashed by P4
billion during the budget deliberation. The teachers’ group
criticized Duterte’s prioritization of war over people’s welfare.
“We are enraged that the
Duterte’s NTF-ELCAC, his main fascist machinery that has militarized
the bureaucracy, gets a huge chunk of people’s coffers. Meanwhile,
the calamity fund was significantly slashed and the pay hike budget
for 1.5 million civilian employees was prudently provided for in the
2020 budget. Such leaves us vulnerable in times of crisis, like now
that we are facing the tragedy of the Taal volcano eruption. The
government’s neglect has never been more evident, and the people’s
collective power ever more powerful as we are left to rely on each
other,” said ACT Secretary General Raymond Basilio.
Additionally, ACT argues
that the people shall likewise unite to hold the Duterte
administration accountable for its abandonment of the people and
failure to do its duties. ACT further posits that the government
‘kills us twice over – through his wars against the people,
especially the poor, and by denying us our basic rights to social
and economic services.”
ACT furthered that the
NTF-ELCAC not only takes resources away from necessary services to
the people, it also poses a threat to democracy as it was allegedly
responsible for the series of political attacks against dissenters
and those fighting for their rights, such as ACT and other
individuals and organizations.
“The NTF-ELCAC and its
regional formations have launched a campaign to vilify and red-tag
ACT and teacher-unionists in several regions. We’ve documented
reports of the said task force holding symposia and fora in which it
tags our and other progressive organizations as communist fronts.
Our leaders have been subjected to surveillance, threats, and
harassments, and then being given copies of EO 70 and being told
forced to ‘surrender’ to the government,” exposed Basilio.
Basilio added that the
NTF-ELCAC utilizes the entire bureaucracy in its attempts to quell
people’s rightful unrest and democratic exercise of rights amid the
economic and political crisis befalling the country through
vilification, intervention, and fascist measures. ACT said that the
task force’s ultimate objective is to establish Duterte’s tyrannical
rule, hence the President’s pouring of resources to the NTF-ELCAC.
“Therefore, teachers’ just
fight for decent pay, better benefits and services for all serve
more than just the economic interests of the people but also
contributes to the frustration of Duterte’s drive for absolute
power,” declared Basilio.
ACT underscored that the
NTF-ELCAC is a fascist machinery that must be dismantled.
“Should there be any
sincerity to the government’s desire to end the 51-year war in the
country, it should address the roots of armed conflict beginning
with opening the peace talks again with the National Democratic
Front of the Philippines and signing the CASER,” urged Basilio.
CASER is the Comprehensive
Agreement for Socio-Economic Reforms, which provides for genuine
agrarian reform and national industrialization, among others. It
also provides for the granting of decent wages and salaries to