NTF-ELCAC budget cut to affect 150 Sorsogon villages
By Connie Calipay / Philippine News Agency
Sorsogon Governor Chiz Escudero (FB page photo)
LEGAZPI CITY – At least 150 villages in Sorsogon province will be affected by the substantial reduction in the proposed 2022 spending plan of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).
In an online interview on Friday, Sorsogon Governor Francis Escudero said the anti-insurgency task force’s allotment for the Barangay Development Program (BDP) this year has benefitted 16 villages in Sorsogon with 157 rural development projects that include road networks, daycare centers, electrification, and potable water system.
“Sixteen barangays were beneficiaries of NTF-ELCAC's BDP. In total, the barangays were able to receive PHP400 million bottom-up budgeting which means I am not the one who chooses projects. The people choose what projects are needed in their respective areas," he said in Filipino.
The Senate proposed to slash the 2022 funding of the NTF-ELCAC by as much as PHP24 billion, according to Finance Committee chair Senator Sonny Angara on Tuesday, leaving just PHP4 billion to the anti-insurgeny body.
Senators said they want to shift the budget for the allowances and benefits of health care workers.
Escudero said it will be “unfortunate” if the BDP’s allocation will be affected as the NTF-ELCAC included 150 Sorsogon barangays for next year’s development projects.
“Sorsogon is composed of 541 barangays. According to the NTF-ELCAC, for BDP next year, at least 150 barangays are beneficiaries with PHP20 million budget per barangay," he said. “I can only speak for Sorsogon. The barangay development programs of NTF-ELCAC is good as it benefits the local community.”
Escudero, however, said that should the proposed cut push through, President Rodrigo Duterte can still realign the budget.
The NTF-ELCAC, created by virtue of Executive Order 70 issued on Dec. 4, 2018, is tasked to “provide an efficient mechanism and structure for the implementation of the whole-of-nation approach to aid in the realization of collective aspirations for inclusive and sustainable peace.”
The BDP, a hallmark program of NTF-ELCAC with the end goal of bringing development to former conflict-prone communities, gives PHP20 million each to insurgency-free villages for farm-to-market roads, classrooms, water and sanitation systems, health stations, and other livelihood projects. (PNA)