ACT to Congress: Funding red-tagging, a waste of money, rechannel NTF-ELCAC budget to education

Amid the broad outcry against Gen. Antonio Parlade’s ‘red-tagging spree,’ the Alliance of Concerned Teachers urged lawmakers ‘to put to meaningful use’ the P19.1 billion 2021 proposed budget for the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, rather than have it wasted on the ‘vicious yapping of rabid militarists that endangers civilian lives.”

“Looks like Gen. Parlade and the NTF-ELCAC is desperately trying to prove their relevance through indiscriminate red-tagging to bag the proposed 3000% increase in their budget next year. We can only watch in disgust knowing that taxpayers’ money pay for this madness while our teachers and students in distance learning are deprived of enough government subsidy,” said Raymond Basilio, ACT Secretary General.

Basilio referred to Parlade’s recent ‘crazy crusade’ to red-tag and threaten personalities vocal of their advocacies such as Angel Locsin, Catriona Gray and Liza Soberano, as well as local government leaders such as Manila Mayor Isko Moreno and Cavite governor Jonvic Remulla who refused to be accessory to or call out NTF-ELCAC’s ‘dirty propaganda tactics.’

“Gen. Parlade has so much to gain from the looming scandalous increase in the NTF-ELCAC budget next year, as at least 80% of it are pork barrel funds for the generals. Apparently the general is putting his mouth where his pocket is,” hit Basilio.

About P16 billion of the P19.1 billion proposed 2021 NTF-ELCAC budget are discretionary funds for the generals , which, according to Basilio, is more than enough to provide all 900,000 teachers in public schools with P15,000 per year teaching expense allowance to reimburse their out-of-pocket expenses just to make education continuity possible.

“At the time of the pandemic, when our main concerns are treating the sick and putting food on the table, when we struggle to uphold education to mitigate the pandemic’s long-term impact to the nation, it is plainly incomprehensible why the Duterte government is prioritizing instead a program that fuels political strife,” expressed Basilio.

Basilio complained that ACT has also been a target of the recent red-tagging campaign, citing reports that ACT was included in the list of organizations named as ‘communist terrorist’ in the NTF-ELCAC webinar for Cavite State University students, while videos and photos accusing ACT and its leaders of the same lately proliferated in Facebook troll pages and teachers’ group chats.

“NTF-ELCAC’s malicious and nonsensical red-tagging tirade holds no value to our teachers. Where are the laptops and the internet allowance that we need for distance teaching? Were are the funds for module printing and safe schools? Where are the health protection mechanisms and benefits for our education frontliners? While the government does not address our very legitimate demands, we will not relent in airing our concerns even if Parlade gets red in the face from his non-stop red-tagging,” concluded Basilio.