Business World

Senators want task force stripped of funds on red-tagging


SEVERAL senators on Thursday sought to deprive a national task force against communism of its budget after an official linked an organizer of community pantries to Maoist rebels.

“We should move to defund the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict in the next budget,” Senator Emmanuel Joel J. Villanueva tweeted late Wednesday. “The people’s money will just go to waste.”

He said the agency’s P19-billion budget should instead be used as cash aid to poor Filipinos affected by a coronaviru­s pandemic.

“I agree,” Senator Sherwin T. Gatchalian replied in a tweet. “If these are the kind of people who will spend hard earned taxpayer’s money, then it’s not worth it.”

Agency spokesman Antonio G. Parlade, Jr. on Tuesday likened in a Cignal TV interview the community pantry efforts of organizer Ana Patricia Non to Satan tempting Eve with the forbidden fruit.

A community pantry offers free food such as rice, noodles and canned goods for free to the poor, while accepting donations from those who can afford these.

Ms. Non in a Facebook post on Tuesday said the community pantry that she started would be closed that day after they were linked to communist rebels.

In a statement on Thursday,

Mr. Villanueva said his call for the realignmen­t of the agency’s budget “conforms to the existing budget practice of realigning scarce funds to where these are more needed.”

— Vann Marlo M. Villegas and

Bianca Angelica D. Añago

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