Public funds squandered in counterinsurgency

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The criminal prioritization of the defense sector and counterinsurgency war amid the public health crisis is evident in reports issued by the Commission on Audit (COA) in recent months. On top of the huge chunk of funds allocated to the military and police, COA exposed the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) cornered million of pesos of funds from other civilian agencies.

During the second week of July, COA exposed anomalies on how the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Philippine National Police (PNP) utilized billions of pesos allocated to them. COA pointed out that the agencies failed to utilize ₱9.4 billion allocated for various contracts and projects. COA revealed that the AFP and AFP failed to deliver on time 41 projects worth ₱6.8 billion, while nine military projects worth ₱940.5 million were suspended. The PNP Special Action Force also failed to deliver projects worth ₱1.7 billion. The AFP and PNP failed to explain where these funds are.

COA also questioned the anomalous transfer of ₱162.9-million funds of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) and Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) to the NTF-ELCAC for the implementation of its programs. COA revealed that around ₱160 million in scholarship funds was tranferred by TESDA to its regional offices for the implementation of NTF-ELCAC programs in 2020. More than a fourth of the said funds (₱41.95 million) were allocated to the Davao Region which is dominated by the Dutertes. Additionally, the DILG transferred ₱2.9 million to its regional offices in Mindanao also for the implementation of NTF-ELCAC activities without proper documentation.

The National Commission on the Indigenous Peoples (NCIP)-Caraga was also flagged for its anomalous and lavish utilization of more than ₱1 million for a “workshop” by the NTF-ELCAC in Agusan del Norte on November 2020. The said activity was held at a beach resort in Agusan del Norte at the time when mass gatherings were still prohibited. The NCIP is notorious for squandering public funds lavish expenses. Last year, the commission was also flagged for spending ₱4.8 million on expensive hotels and restaurants.

The COA pointed out that government agencies cannot just use the Executive Order 70, which created the NTF-ELCAC, to transfer funds without the approval of Congress.

Public funds squandered in counterinsurgency