DILG slams Makabayan for spreading lies on Barangay Dev’t Program
MANILA – The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Tuesday slammed the Makabayan Bloc for spreading fake news about the Barangay Development Program (BDP) which seeks to bring development and projects to some 822 barangays in remote areas that have been cleared of the terrorist New People’s Army (NPA) and its allied communist organizations.
DILG Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya said it is the Makabayan Bloc who is “shameless” and “thick-skinned” for seeking to deprive these remote barangays of government programs and projects that they have been waiting for a long time.
“Why is the Makabayan Bloc opposing the development of these remote barangays? Is it because they want to keep these areas undeveloped, poor, and isolated so that these can again be infiltrated and even controlled by the New People’s Army?,” Malaya asked.
Bayan Muna Rep. Eufemia Cullamat earlier called DILG Secretary Eduardo Año as thick-skinned for proposing an additional PHP40 billion in the 2022 budget for the 2,000 barangays that have been cleared of Communist terrorists for development projects like farm-to-market roads, schools, houses, health centers, electrification, water, and livelihood projects, among others.
Malaya, also spokesperson of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF ELCAC), deplored the fake news being manufactured by Cullamat in claiming without proof that these funds were allegedly squandered and wasted.
“We challenge Rep. Cullamat to prove that a single centavo of the PHP16.2 billion has been squandered and wasted? Where is her evidence? It is easy to make allegations because words are cheap. We ask her to substantiate her claims with hard evidence and file the necessary charges,” he said.
He reminded Cullamat that the BDP funds are not coursed through the NTF ELCAC but are released directly by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to the beneficiary LGUs who will handle the procurement process and directly implement the projects.
As of July 18, 2021, the DBM has already released PHP16.26 billion of the PHP16.44 billion total allocation of the BDP directly to the concerned local government units (LGUs) to cover 2,281 projects of 813 barangays. Projects in the remaining nine barangays in Calabarzon and Mimaropa are currently awaiting the approval of the Joint Regional Task Forces prior to endorsement to the DBM.
Moreover, 509 out of 813 barangays already have their Notice of Authority to Debit Account Issued (NADAI) for the implementation of 1,441 projects.
Malaya said Cullamat is crying wolf when there is none.
“In fact, as of today, only 17 projects in CAR, Region 1, Region 5, Region 11 and Region 13 are ongoing implementation, while 1,130 projects are in the procurement stage in compliance with Republic Act 9184,” he said.
“How can Rep. Cullamat claim that the funds were squandered when the majority of the projects are still in the procurement stage? This is clearly because they are biased against the program and refuse to see the hard facts,” he said.
Go out of airconditioned offices
He challenged the Makabayan bloc lawmakers to go out of their airconditioned offices in Congress and visit LGUs and barangays that benefited from BDP “so that you will know how thankful they are" for the attention they received now from the government.
To ensure that transparency and accountability mechanisms are in place, the DILG will utilize online platforms such as SUBAYBAYAN and DevLive to ensure the timely implementation of the projects. The Project Monitoring and Evaluation Committees (PMECs) in LGUs and monitoring platforms among within NTF-ELCAC were also established.
Malaya also branded as fake news the Makabayan’s claim that the BDP will be used to campaign for administration candidates.
“We wish to remind Rep. Cullamat that the beneficiary barangays of this program are not vote-rich barangays. These are far-flung barangays in remote mountainous areas or in isolated coastal communities with few voters. If the purpose was politics, these funds should have been given instead to vote rich areas in urban communities who can tip the forthcoming elections,” he said.
He said maybe the reason why the Makabayan Bloc is worried is because these former influenced barangays used to be their stronghold in the party-list elections.
Malaya again branded as fake news the unobligated and unspent Philippine National Police funds for anti-insurgency in 2020 that allegedly have expired.
He said the funds are completely intact with no anomaly and its handling is considered a continuing appropriation that could be used until December 31 this year as advised by the DBM.
PNP Chief Gen. Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar has clarified that due to the pandemic, the PHP722.9 million fund was only released to the PNP on Oct. 26, 2020.
“Hindi pa ito puwedeng gastusin lahat sa natitirang dalawang buwan ng 2020 dahil sa mahigpit na alituntunin ng batas sa paggastos ng pondo ng taumbayan (It is not yet possible to spend all of the funds in the remaining two months of 2020 due to the strict rule of law on spending people's funds),” he said.
Support from LGUs
Malaya said the implementation of the BDP is widely supported by the LGUs all over the Philippines, from the provinces down to the barangays.
“LGUs nationwide have issued resolutions and statements of support for the BDP’s implementation to the barangays in the countryside which have been conflict-ridden for many years due to the atrocities of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA). This just proves that the BDP indeed benefits underserved communities who have been long taken advantage of by CTGs,” he added.
He said that as of July 18, 2021, a total of 904 resolutions and statements of support have been issued to the implementation of BDP to the 822 beneficiary barangays for the current year. On the other hand, 69 resolutions and statements of support have also been issued for the anticipated implementation of BDP for 2022. (PR)