Esperon defends budget allocation for NTF-ELCAC
By Jovee Marie De La Cruz / Business Mirror
AS some lawmakers continuously oppose the budget allocation for the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), the National Security Adviser on Monday said an estimated 5.2 million Filipinos are expected to benefit from the Barangay Development Program (BDP) for this year and next year.
In defending the budget of the BDP, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr., in a news statement, said the BDP became instrumental in addressing the conditions of conflict-affected communities in far-flung areas, and in realizing the long-sought development in rural areas.
For 2022, about 1,406 barangays will be included in the BDP program to which each will be given P20 million worth of various projects that include farm-to-market road, barangay health centers, potable water system, school buildings and livelihood.
The proposed budget for the BDP in 2022 is pegged at P28.2 billion.
“Through the BDP, we at the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict see that this batch of 1,406 barangays will be emancipated from the influence of the Communist Terrorists and become peaceful and productive societies Testimonies abound from the youth, barangay captains, and local residents on the efficacy and effectiveness of the BDP,” said Esperon, vice chairman of the NTF-ELCAC.
The first batch of 822 barangays was funded from the General Appropriations Act of 2021 at P20 million each, or a total of P16.44 billion.
Esperon said the second batch of BDP beneficiaries or the 1,406 barangays went through the Community Support Program, initiated by the Armed Forces of the Philippines, from 2020 to the first quarter of 2021. The funds for these projects are now included in the National Expenditure Program being deliberated by Congress.
For 2022, in terms of region, most of the beneficiaries will be from, Region 5 (Bicol); Region 11 (Davao Region); Region 13 (Caraga); Region 10 (Northern Mindanao); Region 8 (Eastern Visayas); Region 6 (Western Visayas) and others.
While in terms of provinces, most barangays that were already free from New People’s Army (NPA) threat and influence are from Sorsogon, Bukidnon, Davao de Oro, North Cotabato, Agusan del Sur, Davao City, Camarines Sur, Surigao del Sur and others.
As of September 9, he said, about 99.03 percent or P16.289 billion of the P16.44 billion funds for the BDP implementation in 2021 had already been released to the provincial and city governments.
“On the status of project implementation, I am pleased to report that despite the challenges of the pandemic, regional task forces are already facilitating the pre-procurement stage of 1,244 projects, the procurement process of 823 projects, and the implementation of 211 projects,” Esperon said.
The Makabayan bloc is calling for the abolition of the task force and demanding that the funding given to NTF-ELCAC be rechanneled to education and pandemic response in 2022.