Senators had a good laugh Monday when Sen. Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa likened the government’s anti-insurgency program to wooing a woman who is already taken.

BATO1 - Dela Rosa makes passionate appeal for NTF-ELCAC budget OK
Senator Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa (Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa / Facebook page / MANILA BULLETIN)

Dela Rosa made the analogy as he made a passionate appeal for senators to approve the P19-billion budget for the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict during the Senate hearing on the P4.506-trillion national budget for 2021.
 
The Senate minority bloc, led by Sen. Franklin Drilon, has been pushing for the highly contested NTF-ELCAC funds to be realigned to augment the State’s rescue and rehabilitation efforts to victims of the recent typhoons and to augment the government’s COVID-19 programs.
 
“Nakapanligaw ka na ba ng isang babae na meron nang matagal na may boyfriend na gusto mong agawin ‘yung babae?” Dela Rosa asked Sen. Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara, who chairs the Senate Finance committee.
 
Angara was taken aback by Dela Rosa’s questioning but replied in jest: “Very incriminating naman ‘yung tanong ninyo…very incriminating!”
 
Angara tossed the question back to Dela Rosa and asked him: “Puwede bang si Sen. (Senate President Pro Tempore) Ralph Recto na lang sumagot ng tanong ni Sen. Bato?”
 
Sen. Nancy Binay joined the banter, telling Dela Rosa she doesn’t see it happening to Angara: “Siya ho kasi ‘yung pinag-aagawan eh.” Senate President Vicente Sotto III agreed with Binay, jokingly saying: “It happened to me before.”

But Dela Rosa insisted that his question is valid “because I’d like to tell you my experience.”

Asked by Sotto to expound what made him use such analogy, Dela Rosa said the country’s insurgency problem could be likened to courting a woman who is hard to convince.

“Itong mga 822 barangays na na cleared na ngayon ng ating mga kasundaluhan at kapulisan ay 50 years in the making na ito (These 822 barangays that were cleared by our soldiers and police of insurgency was actually 50 years in the making),” the former Philippine National Police chief said.
 
“Nililigawan sila ng ating mga kasundaluhan at kapulisan para mapunta ‘yung simpatiya nila sa ating gobyerno (They courted these barangays so they can sympathize with our government),” he said.

He said law enforcement authorities made a vow that they will have a bright future if they believe in the government and not on the New Peoples’ Army (NPA) and other communist rebels trying to undermine the State’s sovereignty.
 
“Kapag tanggalin natin itong pondo na ito para sa barangay development program na ‘yan… anong mangyayari?…Napakasakit po na ang simpatya ng mga tao whom we have sworn to serve and protect ay wala sa atin, nandoon sa kalaban dahil napabayaan sila (If we remove the funds for these barangay development program, what will happen? It’s so hard to see that the people’s sympathy, whom we have sworn to serve and protect is not with us, but with the enemies because they were neglected).”

 
Dela Rosa also said the so-called allies of the Communist Party of the Philippines are doing their best to block this proposed budget precisely because they know it is “a battle of winning the hearts and minds of the people.”
 
“Alam ninyo po, napakaimportante ng word of honor sa isang Pilipino. ‘Yung pag nagsabi ka dapat gawin mo. Eh ngayon kung di magawa ng ating gobyerno dahil nawala itong pondo na ito, anong sasabihin ngayon ng mga taga barangay? ‘Mabuti pa balik na lang tayo sa mga NPA?’ (Word of honor is important for Filipinos. When you promised something you should follow through. If the government fails to deliver and these funds are not given, what will these barangays say? They’ll find it better to return to the NPA)” he lamented.

“Kaya binibigyan ko ng importansya itong pondong ito. Ibigay natin to Mr. President (That’s why I’m underscoring the importance of these funds. Let’s give it to them Mr. President),” Dela Rosa appealed.

Eventually, Sotto, Angara, and Senators Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri, Panfilo Lacson, and Richad Gordon supported Dela Rosa’s position.

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