The P19-billion budget for anti-surgency activities would help rehabilitate more than 1,400 villages nationwide, according to a Senate leader.

The 2021 budget, provided to the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict would sustain government efforts to cut communist influence in rural communities, Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III said in a statement on Friday.

The Senate earlier kept the agency’s budget intact after some senators proposed channel the fund to the government’s coronavirus vaccine program.

The P4.5-trillion national budget allotted P2.5 billion for vaccines under the Health department budget and P70 billion more in unprogrammed funds.

“We want to sustain rural development programs that the government has already started to carry out in these barangays,” Mr. Sotto said.

Defense Secretary Delfin N. Lorenzana told a separate online news briefing on Friday the budget would be used to build roads, provide water and for street lighting projects, among other things. — Charmaine A. Tadalan