Defunding NTF ELCAC disservice to villages that fought Reds
Updated: May 3, 2021
By Prexx Marnie Kate Trozo / Philippine News Agency
Davao Oriental Governor Nelson Dayanghirang. (Contributed photo)
DAVAO CITY – Davao Oriental Governor Nelson Dayanghirang said defunding the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF ELCAC) would be a big disservice to the barangays which fought long and hard to clear their communities of communist influence.
“We appeal to those who are calling to defund the ELCAC to open their hearts and minds to the plea of our people," Dayanghirang said in a statement in response to several lawmakers' call for the realignment of NTF ELCAC PHP19 billion budget to coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) efforts.
The Barangay Development Program (BDP), he said, will sustain the peace in communities already cleared from the Communist influence through development projects and programs that will ultimately improve the lives of the people in these hinterland barangays."
The BDP, a hallmark program of NTF ELCAC with the end goal of bringing development to former conflict-prone communities, has identified 822 barangays nationwide that were former guerilla fronts of the Communist Party of the Philippines - New People's Army (CPP-NPA-NDF).
Of the PHP19 billion total budget of the NTF-ELCAC, PHP16.5 billion is allotted for the development of 822 barangays cleared of insurgency.
Each recipient barangay would receive PHP20 million for the following: 1-kilometer farm-to-market road worth PHP12 million; classrooms (PHP3 million); water and sanitation systems (PHP2 million); health station (PHP1.5 million); and livelihood projects (PHP1.5 million).
Dayanghirang said it is "sensible to finish what was started, to deliver the last stroke, to give what our people truly deserve an insurgency-free community.”
The insurgency has brought nothing but fear and poverty aggravated by violence, he added.
“For us in the provincial government, it is not only of utmost necessity and urgency that we share the national government's commitment but most importantly that we respond to the very root cause of the problem,” he said.
The problem of communist insurgency, he added, persisted primarily because the people in the hinterland barangays did not feel the government’s presence and care.
“Their abject poverty and longing for government support are exploited by these communists,” Dayanghirang said, adding that it is the first time the government has invested so much in a program bent to end the communist armed conflict.
“We need to take advantage of this rare chance to pour down our support to these once-neglected communities and prevent them from being swayed back to the side of the enemy,” he added.
The CPP-NPA, which has been waging a five-decade war against the government, is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines. (PNA)