‘1,805 activities per hour?’ Drilon in disbelief over PNP’s use of NTF-ELCAC funds

Bella Perez-Rubio - Philstar.com
�1,805 activities per hour?� Drilon in disbelief over PNP�s use of NTF-ELCAC funds
In this photo dated August 3, 2020, personnel of the Quezon City Police District's Kamuning Police Station 10 are pictured during their morning flag-raising rites.
The STAR / Michael Varcas, file

MANILA, Philippines — Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Friday urged the newly-appointed chief of the Philippine National Police to review the agency's use of its anti-insurgency funds following allegations of misuse.

Drilon issued this challenge to Police Lt. Gen. Dionardo Carlos, incredulous at PNP's report that it conducted about 13 million different activities in less than a year using its P1.08 billion allocation as a member of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict. 

"That’s 1,805 activities per hour! Has PNP become a ‘super body’ or ‘superman’?" Drilon said in a statement Friday. "It is a mystery to me how they were able to do it." 

As the Senate resumed deliberations on the 2022 budget on Thursday, the PNP told them that P766.2 million of the fund was obligated this year to fund the activities. They are seeking the same P1.08 billion anti-insurgency budget for next year. 

But when Drilon asked what specific programs benefited from the funds, the 2022 budget's sponsor, Sen. Sonny Angara, said the police force used these funds to conduct about 13 million different anti-communism activities by its 12 clusters.

"I have been in the Senate for 24 years, this is the first I'm hearing a report that there are 13 million programs being funded in a span of one year or less than one year," Drilon replied partially in Filipino. 

“We computed that, and it turns out that for the past 10 months, assuming 13 million activities, that would be 43,333 activities per day, which on its surface is immediately difficult to believe." 

He said this means the activities being conducted using these funds are either bloated or inaccurate. 

Given this, Drilon noted that it was "no wonder" that the Commission on Audit flagged the way anti-insurgency funds were being disbursed. 

He was referring to a 2020 COA report which found that the PNP spent around P86.57 million, or 12%, of the P722.95 million in anti-insurgency funds it received as a member agency of the NTF-ELCAC last year. 

Senate slashes NTF-ELCAC budget 

This comes as senators this week made good on their threat to defund the Duterte administration's controversial red-tagging task force. 

Angara announced on Tuesday that the upper chamber would slash the task force's proposed P28 billion budget by 86% — down to P4 billion, noting that the task force failed to submit a detailed report of how it utilized its funds. 

He also said the P24 billion taken from the NTF-ELCAC was reallocated to fund the country's pandemic response, including the procurement of booster COVID-19 shots. 

"I fully support Sen Angara’s position on the reduction of the P28B NTF ELCAC budget," Drilon, among the senators who have long opposed the large allocation afforded the task force, said later that same day.

"Plus, there is another P2B budget also for NTF ELCAC in the budgets of various agencies which we will move to be deleted." This was echoed by Sen. Panfilo Lacson who said during deliberations that the funds lodged across agencies “is too much” to render support services to the task force. 

Defunding NTF-ELCAC became a majority position in the Senate earlier this year after its controversial spokespersons red-tagged organizers of community pantries. 

Sen. Ronald dela Rosa during Thursday's budget debates warned, however, that the Senate may come across as a "supporter" of communist rebels over the move. 

But he was rebuked by both Angara and Senate President Vicente Sotto III who said that their issue was not with the existence of the task force but its failure to properly account for its spending of public funds. 

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