Barangay dev’t funds can't be used for elections: NTF-ELCAC
By Christopher Lloyd Caliwan / Philippine News Agency
NTF-ELCAC action officer on BDP Director Monico Batle (Screengrab from Zoom presser)
MANILA – The budget intended for the Barangay Development Project (DBP) could not be used by the local government executives (LCEs) for the 2022 elections, a National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) official said on Monday.
This, after Senate minority leader Franklin Drilon warned that the NTF-ELCAC’s proposed PHP40 billion budget for 2022 could be used as “election giveaway”.
Monico Batle, NTF-ELCAC action officer on BDP Director Monico Batle, said Republic Act 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act has enough safeguards to protect the NTF-ELCAC funds for development projects specifically intended for the villages cleared of communist terrorist group (CTG) influence.
"Actually, mahirap pong gamitin yan sa eleksyon. Unang una meron po tayong rules at monitoring system in local level at sa national level lalong lalo na yung DILG. So kaya nga po may delay ng konti dahil po yung ating procurement law, yung (Republic Act 9184) marami po siyang procedures, madaming rules na sinusunod at maingat po yung ating mga LCEs otherwise makukulong po sila ‘pag yan po ay ginamit nila hindi for that purpose (it would be difficult to use it for elections. First, there are rules and monitoring system in the local and national levels especially the Department of the Interior and Local Government. So that is why there are some delays because the procurement law have so many procedures, rules being followed and our local chief executives are very careful otherwise they could get incarcerated if they will use that fund for other purpose),” Batle said during the virtual NTF-ELCAC press briefing.
Batle assured that the NTF-ELCAC funds will be used for the projects stipulated under the BDP.
For his part, Assistant Director Rene Valera, of the DILG Office of Project and Development Services, said the LCEs are well aware that the BDP funds will only be used for the barangay development projects
He said the recipient barangays already knew and awaiting to get the NTF-ELCAC funds for the priority projects of their respective villages.
"Maliwanag po ito sa mga pakikipag usap namin sa mga executive, meron po tayong directive coming from the Secretary thru memorandum circulars na ang pondong ito ay nakalaan sa mga naka-prioritize na proyekto ng ibat ibang barangay (It is clear that with our dialogues with the local executives and the directives coming from the Secretary thru memorandum circulars that these funds are for priority project of different barangays)," Valera said.
The BDP has identified 822 barangays formerly infested by New People’s Army (NPA), armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).
Batle said the NTF-ELCAC has allotted more than PHP16.44 billion for the construction of farm-to-market roads, classrooms, water and sanitation systems, health stations, and livelihood projects in the 822 insurgency-freed villages with each barangay getting PHP20 million.
DILG Secretary Eduardo M. Año earlier said PHP16.24 billion or 99 percent of the BDP funds have been already approved and released by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to the recipient barangays as of June 30, 2021.
He said the 2,271 projects, including 926 farm-to-market roads, will be constructed under the BDP in 812 barangays.
DILG Undersecretary and NTF-ELCAC spokesperson Jonathan Malaya earlier said the DILG shall conduct stringent monitoring of the more than 2,000 BDP initiatives to ensure the progress of each project is adhering to the set guidelines and standard of the law.
For next year, the BDP has allotted funds for the development projects in 1,406 barangays mostly located in Samar and the Bicol Region.
“Dapat po isa sa mga programa na dapat ituloy dahil maganda naman po itong programa na ito. Dapat po ma-sustain natin siya. So, as of June 21, nag-submit po tayo ng total of 1,406 cleared barangays sa DBM (This is a program that should be sustained because it is a good program. So, as of June 21, we have already submitted a total of 1,406 cleared barangays at DBM),” Batle said.
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)