Philippine National Police

PNP denies Lacson’s claim that police misused NTF-ELCAC funds

Jairo Bolledo

ALLEGED MISUSE OF FUND. File photo of PNP officials

Rappler.com

Senator Panfilo Lacson alleges that a PNP general uses anti-insurgency funds to conduct a barangay census

The Philippine National Police (PNP) denied Friday, August 6, the allegations of Senator Panfilo Lacson that it misused anti-insurgency funds.

In a statement, the PNP “categorically and vehemently” denied that the police used the funds of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) to conduct censuses in barangays. 

Lacson, himself a former PNP chief, said he received reports that a so-called general instructed local police chiefs to conduct a supposed “census,” asking for the names, contact numbers, and addresses of barangay residents.

We received reports, at least sa PNP, merong nag-iikot na heneral… ‘Yung kanila kasi P800 million ‘yung sa kanila and part of that, allegedly, is being used to give instruction to their chiefs of police na magkaroon ng parang census among residents ng barangay,” Lacson said in an interview with ANC’s Headstart on Thursday. 

(We received reports that in PNP, there is a general who gives orders. Allegedly, part of P800 million is allegedly being used to give instruction to police chiefs to conduct a census among barangay residents.)

Lacson added that using the funds for such purposes was questionable because anti-insurgency budget should be used for development projects. 

“For what reason? Medyo suspicious ‘yun (That is suspiciou) and we have to look into that because that’s outside of authorized utilization of the NTF-ELCAC,” Lacson said. “If it is being misused for other purposes, mukhang kailangan reviewhin natin (then we need to review it).”

Under President Rodrigo Duterte’s Executive Order (EO) No. 70, the NTF-ELCAC was created with the objective of eliminating the insurgency in the country. The EO also ordered a whole-of-nation approach against insurgency and mobilized government agencies, including the PNP. 

‘Used to strengthen relationship’

The PNP said it launched projects that strengthened its relationship with the community and other sectors.

“We are promoting cooperation and coordination between the PNP and the community to improve our services and work hand in hand with members of the community for our anti-drug and anti-criminality efforts, as well as protecting the community, especially the youth from falling prey to syndicates and being recruited by communist fronts,” the PNP said. 

The PNP added that it welcomed any investigation into the alleged misuse of funds. The police also blamed the so-called anti-government organizations for the issue. 

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Napapansin ng mga kontra-gobyerno ang ating ginagawa, at marahil sila ang nagpalabas ng mga rumors na ito para subukan na pigilan ang ating community mobilization at cleansing programs,” the police added. 

(Those against the government saw our projects and maybe they were behind this issue to interrupt our community mobilization and cleansing programs.)

For the past years, the government’s anti-insurgency task force has been riddled with controversy due to red-tagging by its former spokesperson, retired Lieutenant General Antonio Parlade and Undersecretary Lorraine Badoy.

In March, the Senate committee on national defense and security, peace, unification and reconciliation passed a resolution recommending the removal of Parlade. Days before his mandatory retirement, in July, Parlade resigned from his post.

As of July 2021, the NTF-ELCAC has already released P16.24 billion to 812 so-called “insurgency-free” barangays, as part of the Barangay Development Fund. The project seeks to give incentives to barangays supposedly cleared of communist terrorist groups.

In the billions of funds released, Davao City, Duterte’s hometown, got a lion’s share. Davao Region was allotted P4.3 billion, while Davao City was allocated P1.64 billion.

For 2022, the NTF-ELCAC requested an additional P40 billion for its project. Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon warned that funds could be used for the elections. – Rappler.com

Jairo Bolledo

Jairo Bolledo is a multimedia reporter at Rappler covering the police, crime, military, and security.