Defense budget backing vowed

Martin Romualdez and Lorenzana
House Majority Leader and Leyte Rep.Martin Romualdez (left), congratulates Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on the successful presentation of the 2020 budget of the Department of National Defense during a budget briefing at Makalintal hall in the House of Representatives. Upper photo: Rep. Romualdez (left) discusses with Deputy Majority Leader Rep. Llanda Bolilia (right) and Committee on Ways and Means Vice-Chairperson Sharon Garin (center) tax measures on Passive Income and Financial Intermediary Tax Reform during a Ways and Means committee meeting.The PIFITR was approved at committee level. Photo by Ver Noveno

HOUSE Majority Leader Martin Romualdez yesterday assured his full support for the swift passage of the proposed P258 billion budget of the Department of National Defense (DND) next year.

Romualdez, who chairs the House Committee on Rules, made his assurance  at yesterday’s budget hearing where Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana defended DND’s budget under the proposed P4.1 trillion national budget for 2020.

“We are supportive of the DND budget to defend the country’s territorial integrity and the fight against terrorism,” said Romualdez.

Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano said Congress will help improve the Philippines’ “small capability” to defend the territorial intrusions in the West Philippine Sea.

“Please rest assured that the main question of Congress is what we can do in terms of legislation and budget to help you protect the territorial integrity of our country and help you protect us against the enemies of the state. I know the answer will come throughout the hearing, pero rest assured that if the Armed Forces of the Philippines is the backbone of our country in giving us safe and comfortable meron din po kayong backbone dito sa Kongreso na ito, sa 18th Congress,” said Cayetano during the budget hearing.

‘Condemn CPP-NPA’

At the same hearing Lorenzana challenged the left-leaning Makabayan Bloc to condemn the alleged atrocities committed by the Communist Party of the Philippines’ (CPP) armed wing New People’s Army (NPA).

He made the call as Makabayan Bloc members insisted that their party-list groups are not front organizations of the underground communist movement.

“Kung nasaan maraming NPA, nandoon din kayo… you do not condemn the atrocities of the CPP. How can we now disassociate you (with the rebels)?” Lorenzana asked, accusing the communist rebels of staging attacks on military and police personnel and facilities resulting in the killings of several government troops.

“Condemn the CPP-NPA, stop these atrocities, condemn iyong armed struggle na sinasabi ni Joma Sison and we will also stop what we are doing,” he added.