BDP to foil Reds' poverty tool used in recruitment

By Priam Nepomuceno / Philippine News Agency

National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon, Jr. (PNA File photo)

MANILA – With the Barangay Development Program (BDP), the government now has in possession a tool that can help defeat poverty that plays a part in the recruitment and radicalization of vulnerable communities into the ranks of communist terrorists and their radicalization.


"For us in the security sector, we recognize that the radicalization of vulnerable communities and recruitment into the armed insurgency can be traced in part to poverty, hunger, lack (of) access to education and economic opportunities, inadequate healthcare, infrastructure, and injustice. Our goal at the NTF ELCAC (National Task Force to End Local Communism Armed Conflict) through the BDP, is to address these fundamental factors," National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon, Jr. said during the ground-breaking ceremonies for the BDP in the Bicol Region Thursday.


He said the NTF ELCAC, of which he is vice-chair, is very appreciative of the strong and overwhelming support of all local chief executives, lawmakers, and the private sectors for the BDP.


"We stand here today, both national and local organs of the government, arm-in-arm and united to end the root causes of the armed insurgency," Esperon said.


The BDP is the government's counter-insurgency plan that 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.


"We take pride in the accomplishments of the NTF ELCAC, starting with the groundbreaking ceremonies that are taking place across the country. With the realization of the BDP, we join President Duterte in his earnest aspiration that our country may soon reap the fruits of peace, prosperity, and progress," he added.


Esperon said the BDP package being implemented in the Bicol region is the outcome of meticulous collaborative efforts between the local government, the security sector, private sector partners, and the national government, which all pitched in identifying stakeholders' needs in the area.


BDP ground-breaking now underway


He said the ground-breaking ceremonies for the BDP implementation in other regions are now underway.


"More importantly, I take this opportunity to reiterate that it is the President’s desire that the projects are completed soonest -- with the mark, and as samples, of good governance. The President is confident that the governors to whom the BDP funds are released, and the implementers of the BDP projects, will see to it through measures of transparency and accountability set by the national government," he added.


Esperon said the first ground-breaking for a BDP project took place in Balagbag East, Rizal, Kalinga last May 24.


"Today (Thursday) June 24, 2021, we have the BDP ground-breaking ceremony in the Municipality of Casiguran, Sorsogon Province in Bicol Region (Region V). The event will be graced by no less than the Cabinet Officer for Regional Development and Security (CORDS) for Region V Secretary Gregorio Honasan; incumbent Governor of Sorsogon, former Senator Francis 'Chiz' Escudero; high-level officials from the various national government agencies; local chief executives; as well as military and police commanders," he added.


Through the BDP, 15 barangays in Sorsogon shall each be receiving a package of programs and projects worth PHP20 million to aid in the development of their communities this year.


The municipality of Casiguran shall be implementing the BDP in Barangay San Pascual and Sta. Cruz, totaling to PHP40,000,000.


The breakdown of the PHP20,000,000 worth of projects in Barangay Sta. Cruz is, as follows:


* Construction of barangay road in Sitio Ariman worth PHP10 million;


* Construction of local access road from Central to Station Sampaloc worth PHP3 million;


* Construction of local access road from Central to Sitio Purog worth PHP3 million;


* Electrification of Sitio Purog worth PHP1 million;


* Expansion of Level III water supply system from Casiguran Water District worth PHP1 million; and


* Construction of one health station in Sitio Centro with the provision of medicines worth PHP2 million,000,000.



Meanwhile, Barangay San Pascual will be allocating its PHP20 million worth for the following projects:


* Concreting of Trece-Sog-Ong barangay road worth PHP12 million; and


* Widening and concreting of barangay road in Sitio Mauhang connecting to National road worth PHP8 million.


Aside from Casiguran town, 26 barangays in Masbate, eight barangays in Camarines Norte shall be receiving the BDP package this year.


This totals to 49 BDP beneficiary barangays for the Bicol Region this year.


Another 282 barangays in the Bicol Region shall be receiving projects under the BDP for implementation in 2022.


The barangays covered by the BDP used to be under the influence of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army (CPP-NPA). Many of these barangays used to be NPA’s guerilla bases.


CPP-NPA stunted growth of Bicol Region


He added that the CPP-NPA presence in the Bicol Region has greatly contributed to its stunted growth.


"The presence of the CPP-NPA has stunted development in many areas within the Bicol region. Philippine Statistics Authority data indicate that the Bicol Region posted a 7 percent unemployment rate and 20.3 percent underemployment rate in April 2021. Data from 2018-2019 show the poverty incidence among the population at 27 percent despite a growth rate of 7.4 percent," Esperon said.


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.


Peace and security concerns, he said, brought about the presence of the communist terrorists has been a dampener for the growth of the Bicol Region.


"At the national level, we understand that the regional development of the Bicol Region is correlated to its peace and order situation. The CPP-NPA has long been notorious for extortion activities conducted against large scale agricultural and mining companies, assassination by the Special Partisan Unit, human rights violations through the illegal use of landmines, human shields, and child warriors, roadside bombings, and ambushes against government personnel and various terrorist acts committed by the Bicol Regional Party Committee of the CPP-NPA," he added. (PNA)

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