NOTF ELCAC to Senate: Retain P16-B ELCAC budget
By Roi Lomotan / Philippine Information Agency
DUMAGUETE CITY – The Negros Oriental Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NOTF ELCAC) is hoping that the country’s legislators in the Upper House would consider retaining the P16-billion budget of the National Task Force (NTF) ELCAC this year.
In a recent media interview, NOTF ELCAC Chairperson Gov. Roel Degamo appealed to the senators to retain the budget for ELCAC for the benefit of the people living in communities affected by insurgency.
Some senators have earlier called for the defunding of the 2021 ELCAC budget amid the issue of red-tagging in the National Capital Region, citing the amount should be realigned for the country’s COVID-19 response efforts instead.
The P16-B budget of the NTF ELCAC is for the Barangay Development Program (BDPs), a form of financial assistance to the barangays which will be utilized for the construction of farm-to-market roads, school buildings, water and sanitation systems, health systems, rural electrification systems, rehabilitation of projects affected natural or human-induced calamities, housing, Covid-19 vaccination and other health related projects, livelihood programs, and assistance to individuals in crisis whether burial, transportation, medical, education, or cash for work.
BDPs are intended for barangays in conflict-affected and Geographically Isolated and Disadvantaged Areas (GIDAs), which were exploited by alleged communist-terrorist group Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA).
Degamo said taking away the budget for ELCAC would greatly affect the projects for the people in conflict-affected areas.
“It will affect the promised projects sa atong katawhan during the Talakayan. All of us agencies in government kaning national line agencies, kaning provincial agencies ugsa municipal niadto didto. Ato gipangutana ang katawhan ug naka-come up ug project. If imo nang i-defund, mabutang na bakakon ang gobyerno (It will affect the projects we promised to the people during the Talakayan. All government agencies - from the national, provincial, and municipal - went there and asked the people what are the programs they need. If you will defund it, it would appear that the government is lying to them),” Degamo explained.
The governor was referring to the Dagyawan sa Barangay: Talakayan ng Mamamayan which is an initiative of the NOTF ELCAC and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).
The Dagyawan brings together officials of government agencies and residents of conflict-affected areas for a dialogue to discuss the main issues related to insurgency and the proper interventions to solve the problems and concerns.
The governor also warned that the national government may be put in a bad light if the senators would defund the program.
“Good for us sa province kay ang ako gisaad naa naman gud: medical mission, livelihood programs, ang mga kalsada na ato gihimo naa naman sa province. What about the national government? That is why I am appealing to the senators, tan-awa ang sitwasyon sa ubos (Good for us in the provincial government because we already delivered what we promised them: medical mission, livelihood programs. We also started constructing roads. But what about the national government? That is why I am appealing to the senators to look at the situation on the ground),” he added.
Last week, the NOTF ELCAC went to Brgy. Bagtic in Mabinay town for the Serbisyo Caravan.
This is one of the interventions of the task force to reach out to the community and bring basic government services to the grassroots level.
On April 29, the group also went to Brgy. Luyang in Mabinay town and conducted the same activity there.
Another Serbisyo Caravan is also slated within the month in Brgy. Samak, Mabinay.
Among the services offered during the Serbisyo Caravan include free medical mission and provision of medicines, free circumcision, free legal, business, and consultation services, wellness services, civil registration, issuances of police clearances, provision of hygiene kits, crop and livestock insurance registration, and distribution of vegetable seeds, seedlings, livestock, and other farm implements.
There are 26 barangays in Negros Oriental coming from Guihulngan City, Zamboanguita, Sta. Catalina, Siaton, Valencia, Canlaon City, Manjuyod, and Mabinay that have been identified as priority areas for ELCAC programs.
All these barangays have yet to receive P20-M for the implementation of BDPs in their respective areas.
DILG-7 Regional Director Leocadio Trovela earlier said that these barangays are included in the 2022 BDP budget. (ral/PIA7-Negros Oriental)