Karapatan claim on BDP beneficiaries ‘unfounded’: DILG
By Christopher Lloyd Caliwan / Philippine News Agency
MANILA – The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) assured Friday that villages that have received funds under the Barangay Development Program (BDP) after being cleared of communist insurgency have undergone a rigorous selection process.
“The selection of 822 barangays to receive BDP funds underwent a thorough validation process participated by different stakeholders, particularly the people from the concerned barangays. These barangays share a common history, being exploited or subjected to abuses and deception by the CPP-NPA (Communist Party of the Philippines - New People’s Army),” Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said in a message to the Philippine News Agency (PNA).
Año’s remarks came in response to a Philippine Daily Inquirer report quoting human rights group Karapatan as saying that the areas that received these funds were in regions that logged the highest number of extrajudicial killings (EJK) and incidents of human rights violations.
“The claims of Karapatan are mere allegations and speculations that had never been substantiated in any judicial court or in any official investigation. This so-called EJK has never been a policy of this government. It is not surprising for Karapatan to make these unfounded allegations because everyone knows the true color of Karapatan,” he added.
Based on data from the DILG, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has approved the funding of 812 barangays, covering 2,276 projects, through the issuance of Special Allotment Release Order (SARO) and the Notice of Cash Allocation (NCA) amounting to PHP16.24 billion as of June 30.
Meanwhile, Año said the funds allocated to the remaining 10 villages have yet to be released as these are still completing documentary project requirements, as prescribed in the policies and procedures under the local budget circulars issued by the DBM.
The top five regions that received the biggest fund allocation are Western Mindanao, Northern Mindanao, Davao region, Soccsksargen, and Caraga.
Earlier, Año said the majority of the projects identified by the recipient barangays are infrastructure projects, which compose the biggest bulk of the funds with 926 farm-to-market roads; 516 water and sanitation projects; 156 health stations; and 135 school buildings.
He said PHP11.61 billion has been earmarked for farm-to-market road projects; PHP2.38 billion for water and sanitation systems; PHP569 million for school buildings; PHP491 million for health stations; PHP482 million for rural electrification; and PHP328 million for agricultural, livelihood, and technical vocational projects.
He added that PHP125.8 million are for other infrastructure projects; PHP110 million for the cost of assistance to indigent individuals and families; PHP87 million for the cost of reconstruction, rehabilitation, repair, and similar projects; PHP22.4 million for housing; and PHP22.5 million for the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) response projects.
“These projects are tangible proof of the government’s desire to bring development to far-flung areas that have not seen government projects in a very long time,” Año said.
Meanwhile, DILG Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya, also the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF ELCAC) spokesperson on BDP, assured the department would conduct strict monitoring of the BDP projects to ensure its progress and adherence to guidelines and standards set by the law.
Malaya said the DILG would use a portion of its budget for third-party monitoring to be conducted by an accredited non-government entity.
He also urged the public to monitor the progress of these projects by regularly visiting https://www.ntfelcac.org/bdp-dashboard.
The BDP is a hallmark initiative of the NTF ELCAC, with the end goal of bringing development and delivering various government programs in conflict-afflicted and geographically isolated villages that have been considered "cleared" of the influence of communist rebels.
The CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines. (PNA)