NTF-Elcac seeks more funds for former ‘rebel-infested’ brgys

NTF-Elcac seeks more funds for former ‘rebel-infested’ brgys
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THE National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-Elcac) is seeking more funding support for barangays that were formerly infiltrated or influenced by communist rebels.

In the 2024 national budget, the 864 barangays under the Barangay Development Program (BDP) will get P2.5 million, which is less than the targeted P10 million per barangay for the 2024 BDP.

The BDP aims to promote development in former communist-influenced barangays. These are in the form of socioeconomic projects such as farm-to-market roads, health centers, schools, water and sanitation facilities, and electrification projects.

“Each of these BDP beneficiaries were formerly influenced barangays. There is not a single barangay na nabigyan that was not influenced by the Communist Party of the Philippines/New People’s Army (CPP-NPA),” said NTF-Elcac executive director Undersecretary Ernesto Torres Jr.

Torres said the BDP is important in sustaining the gains of the government in freeing these barangays from communist influence, as they would diminish and totally eradicate the issues used by the CPP-NPA in agitating, radicalizing, and recruiting the residents.

“The recent effort on the part of your national secretariat to collaborate with Usec. Valmosina Barangay Operations of the DILG (Department of the Interior and Local Government) for all the recipient barangays for 2024, 864 all-in-all, to submit a resolution asking the national government kung pwede pang mapondohan in whatever way possible instead of P2.5 million to P10 million because we know the implementation of these projects in the BDP barangays has to be done urgently,” Torres said.

He said with the P2.5 million budget for the barangays, they have to return it to local government units for them to prioritize projects that would fit within the present budget allocated.

“It would entail some delays in the implementation even with the P2.5 million,” Torres said.

During his talk at the Joint Regional Task Force Elcac in Davao Region held on Feb. 27 at the Apo View Hotel in Davao City, Torres reiterated to the regional body that they are working to restore the budget cut.

Torres said they have been discussing it with the Cords (Cabinet Officer for Regional Development and Security) and also consulted with Department of Budget and Management Secretary Amenah Pangandaman about their BDP predicament.

“With the 864 resolutions from all the barangays and with the strong request endorsed by all the Cords in the different regions, we are hoping and samahan natin ng dasal (join it with prayer) that they will restore the original budget allocation of P10 million per barangay,” Torres said.

For the 2024 BDP, there are nine barangays in Region 11 identified as beneficiaries for the program. This is a reduction of the 215 barangays in Region 11 during the launch of BDP in 2021, some 134 barangays in 2022, and 101 barangays in 2023.

Torres explained that the lesser barangays in the region were brought about by the efforts of NTF-Elcac to focus these limited resources on other regions. For 2024, the BDP focus will be in Caraga Region.

The Cords for Davao Region Secretary Leo Tereso Magno, the current Presidential Assistant for Eastern Mindanao, is fully supportive of the NTF-Elcac efforts to not give up the budget cut of the BDP.

“In the reports that were given, one thing is common: while we are declared insurgency-free, there are movements and activities to precisely go against that insurgency-free status,” Magno said. PIA DAVAO

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