House Deputy Minority Leader and Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate reiterated his call for a “zero” budget for the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, this time proposing that the P19.1 billion allocation be re-allocated for the relief operations and initial rehabilitation of typhoon-ravaged communities in the country.

zarate - P19.1 B for anti-communism programs should be re-allocated for relief, rehab operations, Zarate urges
Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate (Bayan Muna Party list Facebook page / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

Zarate, a Makabayan bloc member, aired the appeal as he and five other Makabayan solons actively took part in the relief operations for the tens of thousands of displaced victims of typhoon Rolly and Ulysses.

Zarate said the P19.1 billion that government proposed to finance the NTF-ELCAC can be put to better use by addressing the immediate needs of typhoon victims who are expected to experience its effects until next year.

According to Zarate the NTF-ELCAC will only use the money to finance “red-tagging and fake news” operations against people airing legitimate redress to the government.

“Now aside from the typhoon damaged Bicol and Southern Tagalog regions, we have to add to the list parts of the National Capital Region (NCR), Central Luzon and Cagayan. Local governments are saying that they would need at least a year or two for them to start to recover and they need all the funds and help they can get to stand up on their feet,” said Zarate.

He noted that in Marikina alone, P10 billion worth of damage has been brought by “Ulysses.”

“Also, more reports are coming in from the Department of Agriculture (DA) regional offices as more provinces are able to regain power supply,” noted Zarate.

He said the DA has revealed that the combined amount of damage and losses caused by Quinta and Rolly reached P8.46 billion while the preliminary estimate for “Ulysses” was at P969.8 million.

“These combined with the damage in Marikina are already more than the P19.1 billion budget of the NTF-ELCAC but if realigned would go a long way to alleviate the plight of our affected countrymen,” he said.

“Our people, especially in the Bicol region, Marikina City, Rizal, parts of Quezon City, Bulacan and Cagayan are so devastated that it would take months and even years for them to recover,” said Zarate.

He added: “ If realigned, funds from the NTF-ELCAC can also be used to build houses and infrastructure for our affected brethren.” (Ben R. Rosario)

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