NTF-ELCAC allots socioeconomic development funds for ‘liberated’ barangays in Bicol
By Jovee Marie De La Cruz / BusinessMirror
Hundreds of barangays in the Bicol region are set to receive funding from the Congress-approved Barangay Development Program (BDP) for their socioeconomic development until 2022 after gaining freedom from New People’s Army (NPA) influence and threats.
In a news statement, the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) has announced the release of funds to 15 barangays in Sorsogon; 26 in Masbate, eight in Camarines Norte and several others.
National Security Adviser Secretary Hermogenes Esperon, vice chairman of the NTF-ELCAC, said by 2022 another batch of 282 barangays also in the Bicol region will be receiving projects under the BDP. Each barangay, certified as NPA-free, will be receiving P20 million worth of infrastructure and livelihood projects.
For 2021, President Duterte, chairman of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) and Congress approved the P16.4 billion for BDP.
Esperon said the NTF-ELCAC underscored the inclusion of the Bicol region in the program because the presence of the Communist Party of the Philippines-NPA in the said areas has stunted the development of the provinces and the entire region.
Citing data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), Esperon said Bicol region posted 7 percent unemployment and 20.3 percent underemployment rates as of April 2021. Also, poverty incidence in the region is at 27 percent despite a growth rate of 7.4 percent.
Esperon said the BDP package being implemented in Bicol is the outcome of the “meticulous” collaborative efforts between the local government, the security sector, private sector partners, and the national government in identifying the needs of stakeholders in the area.
“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 health care and infrastructure and injustice,” he said.
The Municipality of Casiguran, Sorsogon will be implementing the BDP in barangays San Pascual and Sta Cruz with a total funds of P40 million. Projects include barangay roads construction, electrification of some sitios, water supply system, and health station.
In the Bicol Region, Esperon said, the CPP-NPA has long been notorious for extortion activities conducted against large agricultural and mining companies; assassination activities 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 other terrorist acts committed by the Bicol Regional Party Committee of the CPP-NPA.