BDP can end poverty, halt recruitment by CTGs
By Lade Jean Kabagani / Philippine News Agency
MANILA – The Barangay Development Program (BDP), aside from its main goal to end poverty and empower far-flung communities that were infiltrated by communist terrorist groups (CTGs), will end the vicious cycle of violence and recruitment by insurgents.
In a press conference on Monday, National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) spokesperson Lorraine Badoy cited a village in Catarman, Northern Samar that has been cleared six times from the influence and atrocities of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA).
Badoy said exploitation and abuses will be done repeatedly if there are no implemented development programs after security operations.
"It has become very clear to us, in the NTF-ELCAC, that in order for that vicious cycle to end, the government has to step up and do its job of serving the least and most vulnerable among us," she said.
The BDP is the government's counter-insurgency plan which aims to deliver various government programs in conflict-afflicted and geographically isolated villages that have been considered "cleared" from the influence of communist rebels.
It has identified 822 barangays nationwide that will receive PHP20 million each for farm-to-market roads, classrooms, water and sanitation systems, health stations, and livelihood projects.
Of the PHP19 billion total budget of the NTF-ELCAC, PHP16 billion is allotted for the development of barangays cleared of insurgency.
"The barangay development program is there already and it is being rolled out. It has the potential to take millions out of poverty and to empower communities that have long disempowered by the CPP-NPA-NDF (National Democratic Front)," Badoy said further.
National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. said leaving the CTG-cleared areas without development programs would only repeat the violence.
These areas, he said, would surely become "susceptible to re-influencing of the armed groups."
"If we do not develop these areas then it becomes a vicious cycle that has happened in the past," he said.
Esperon noted there is a need to pursue BDP in the cleared areas to continue the government's pursuit of lasting and genuine peace.
"To solve this once and for all, or to have a better chance of eradicating insurgencies in that area, we have to develop the areas. After all, these barangays are geographically isolated or disadvantaged, they have been left to their own for so many years and by the past governments. Maybe you could even say the present government that's why we are doing this now," he said.
The government's whole-of-nation approaches to end armed conflict might be put to waste if the development programs are not implemented, he further explained.
It would also pave the way for CTGs to recruit new members by the day.
"If we do not develop them, then the efforts of the security forces and now of the local government units and national government agencies, will be for naught," he said.
The European Union, through Council Decision 2011/70/CFSP dated January 11, 2011, designated the CPP-NPA as a terrorist organization.
The CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines. (PNA)