It is Delfin Lorenzana who should explain where the Department of National Defense (DND) budget goes, the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) Negotiating Panel said in response to the defense secretary’s allegation Thursday the NPA collects P1.2 billion in “revolutionary taxes” in Eastern Mindanao alone.
NDFP chief negotiator Fidel Agcaoili said while all taxes collected by the NPA are spent for services to the people and the communities, the DND and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) budgets only go to corruption and used to kill civilians.
“Without confirming his allegation, what is Lorenzana complaining about? What about the P137.2B 2017 budget of the DND, where did the monies go? To line the pockets of the generals, military commanders and senior officials of the DND and AFP and towards the acquisition of military equipment used to kill civilians, bombard communities, destroying crops and houses and laying waste to Marawi, close schools and day care centers in Lumad communities, threaten and harass the people, etc?” Agcaoili asked.
“Yet, the AFP is unable to perform its principal duty of protecting and defending the national sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Philippines against foreign aggression in the West Philippine Sea, including the Tubbataha reef,” Agcaoili added.
Lorenzana alleged Thursday at a forum in Makati City the NPA rakes in at least a billion pesos in so-called extortion activities in Eastern Mindanao that affects the course of doing business.
“The amount of money that the CPP (Communist Party of the Philippines) and the NPA are collecting from Eastern Mindanao alone is P1.2 billion a year,” Lorenzana told the Management Association of the Philippines.
Lorenzana also admitted he was the one who convinced President Rodrigo Duterte to stop peace negotiations with the NDFP.
Agcaoili said he is not surprised with Lorenzana’s admission.
“Since the time of (the late dictator Ferdinand) Marcos, the AFP has not gone back to the barracks, unable to accept the most basic of democratic principles – civilian supremacy over the military – and always threatening coups once the soldiers don’t get their way and terrorizing the people with guns and equipments that are paid for the taxpayers,” Agcaoili said.
“It is, in the words of President Duterte, a staunchly pro-American institution, unwilling to accept changes and reforms in Philippine society – the peace spoilers,” he added. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)