Army official assures ELCAC budget will go directly to communities
By Roi Lomotan / Philippine Information Agency
MABINAY, Negros Oriental – The commander of the Philippine Army (PA) brigade based in Negros Oriental clarified that the funding which the government allocated for the implementation of Barangay Development Programs (BDP) will not go to the country’s armed forces as it will be given directly to communities affected by insurgency.
“Hindi po iyan papasok sa bulsa ng mga militar o kapulisan kundi ‘yan po ay pupunta sa barangay. Talaga po didiretso ‘yan kasi sa DILG dadaan ang pondo pero kung walang permiso ang ating Kongreso ay baka mawala po. Sama-sama po tayo manawagan na hindi sana siya ma-defund (The funds will not go to the pockets of the military or the police. It will be given directly to the barangay since the budget will be lodged at DILG. However, if the Congress will not allow the release of the budget, then the funding allocation will be lost. Let’s be united in making an appeal to the Congress not to defund the program),” said Col. Leonardo Peña, commander of the PA's 302nd Infantry Brigade (IB) in the province.
Peña made the statement when he addressed the residents of Brgy. Samac during the Negros Oriental Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NOTF ELCAC) Serbisyo Caravan held on May 12.
The Army official was referring to the P20-M budget for BDP which is intended for barangays that have undergone Community Support Program (CSP), a tool for clearing villages from the influence of insurgents.
To date, there are 822 barangays across the nation that are beneficiaries of the said BDP funds with an accumulated amount of P16-B for 2021.
BDP funds can be used for road concreting projects, construction or rehabilitation of health centers, day centers, and other important structures in the barangay, health and COVID-19 programs, rural electrification systems, livelihood programs, and assistance to individuals in crisis whether burial, transportation, medical, education, or cash for work.
Some legislators in the Upper House have called for the defunding of the said program amid the issue of red-tagging in the National Capital Region (NCR) as they push that the funds be realigned to the country’s COVID-19 response efforts.
Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG-7) Regional Director Leocadio Trovela, in a separate interview, disclosed that there are 87 barangays in Central Visayas, of which 26 are in Negros Oriental, that were included in the second batch of beneficiaries of the BDP program.
Although they are not part of the recipients of the P20 million BDP funding this year, they are expected to receive the same amount of money in 2022.
Peña, together with NOTF ELCAC Chair Gov. Roel Degamo and Mabinay Task Force on ELCAC Chairperson and Mayor Joeterry Uy appealed to government officials at the national level not to defund the BDP program, citing its importance to the community.
“Huwag sanang ma-defund iyong ating BDP. Kasi iyong pondo na ihahatag sa mga barangay na na-clear na ng ating CSP ay halagang P20 million para sa mga infrastructure projects nung mga barangay (Let us not defund the BDP. The P20 million amount will be used for the infrastructure programs in the barangay that we have cleared using CSP),” Peña said..
Degamo said that the country’s legislators should look at what is good for the people.
“Ako hangyoon ang Senado na dili nila i-defund o bawion ang pondo sa ELCAC kay ang ELCAC mao kini motumbok gyud sa tinouruay na kalinaw ug kahusay sa ato probinsiya. This is the way and the only way nga mosalig ang katawhan namo nga nagserbisyo ninyo (I appeal to the Senate not to defund the ELCAC because this is the key to achieving peace and progress in our province. This is the way and the only way to make people trust the public servants),” Degamo emphasized.
On the other hand, Uy also disclosed that some of the important infrastructure projects intended for Brgy. Samac are also up for funding under the ELCAC budget.
“During sa atong Dagyawan, ato gi-promise na manghatag usa ka P1 million na road concreting for implementation this year sa Lower Polog ug inyohang spillway na P800,000 dire sa Sitio Magbalaon. Naa na diha (We promised during the Dagyawan that the government will allocate P1 million for the road concreting in Lower Polog and P800,000 for the construction of spillway in Sitio Magbalaon for this year),” Uy said.
The three officials encouraged the residents of the barangay to show support to the government and the National Task Force (NTF) on ELCAC and join the call to retain the budget for BDP program of the NTF ELCAC.
Meanwhile, NOTF ELCAC brought several government agencies to extend major services to hundreds of residents of Brgy. Samac during the Serbisyo Caravan.
This is one of the major interventions of the task force to make the people feel that the government is ready to serve its constituents in remote communities.
Rice seeds, vegetable seeds, and fertilizers were distributed to farmers in the village.
Degamo together with Provincial Agriculturist Nestor Villaflores and Provincial Veterinarian Jaime Villaluz turned over 20 pieces of native chicks to Samac Captain Dennis Occay, which will be given to livestock raisers in the said barangay.
The Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation also handed over checks to eight farmers as insurance payment for their damaged crops.
On the other hand, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) gave vouchers good for P8,000 worth of sari-sari store items to four beneficiaries of its “Negosyo Serbisyo sa Barangay” Program in the barangay.
The said assistance is given to sari-sari store owners who were recommended by their barangay chair and have passed the standards of DTI.
Other services extended during the Serbisyo Caravan include medical consultation, free circumcision, provision of medicines, free haircut and beauty services courtesy of the Philippine National Police, civil registration, and consultancy and advisory services from different agencies.
The Department of Science and Technology also distributed nutrition packs to the residents during the event. (ral/PIA7-Negros Oriental)