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​NTF-ELCAC execs on BDP: ‘It’s a game changer’

LE August 30, 2023

National Security Adviser Eduardo Año on Tuesday (August 29, 2023) appealed to Congress to continue supporting the Barangay Development Program (BDP), which officials of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) described as a “gamechanger” in the campaign to end the decades old communist insurgency in the country.

Año particularly asked the Senate and the House of Representatives to work for the approval of the proposed BDP budget for 2024 that would be needed by at least 864 barangays that were previously influenced or controlled by the communist terrorist group (CTG).

Under the proposal, each of the recipient barangays would be allotted P10 million each worth of development projects in line with President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s vision to unify the country and for government to become “bringers of peace” to the Filipino people. Marcos is the chairman of the NTF-ELCAC which existence is by virtue of Executive Order No. 70 issued in 2018 by former President Rodrigo Duterte. “(I’m appealing) to all the members of Congress and Senate to please support us and provide funds for the SBDP (Support Barangay Development Project) for 2024,” Año said at a press conference at the national headquarters of the National Security Council in V. Luna, Quezon City. Año, who is also the task force’s co-vice chairman together with Vice President Sara Duterte, pointed out that government’s quest to free the country from the scourge of the almost five-decade-old bloody armed struggle by the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) is already in its final lap this year. “It’s not only that we’re going to uplift the lives of our people in those isolated barangays once under the influence of the CPP-NPA, but we’re now at this point of history that we really have to (eliminate) this insurgency and finally we will have a peaceful country,” he said. For his part, Department of Interior and Local Government Undersecretary Marlo Iringan, of NTF-ELCAC’s Basic Services Cluster, pointed out that the funds for SBDP are directly downloaded to the Local Government Units (LGU), contrary to the vilification campaign by the three partylist-member Makabayan bloc that the funds were in the form of a “pork-barrel”. Iringan said that since the inception of NTF-ELCAC, 3,878 barangays have already been downloaded with SBDP funds that were used and chosen by the residents based on what they felt was most needed in their communities. “773 kilometers of barangay farm-to-market roads were made, which gave greater impact to people who can now transport their produce to the market,” Iringan stressed. NTF-ELCAC Executive Director Undersecretary Ernesto Torres Jr., on the other hand, said SBDP “is a game-changer in our campaign in ending the local communist terrorist.” Torres said NTF-ELCAC’s mandate is to “harmonize efforts of each government agency” in assisting and aiding communities vulnerable to CTG infiltration. “Empowering them (barangay residents in far-flung areas around the country) on what they need in their areas drastically changes the landscape of their socio-economic life. This translate to tangibles like raising the family income, improving the people’s access to education, health, food security, among others,” Torres explained at the sidelines when asked to clarify what he meant by “game-changer”. NSC Assistant Director General Jonathan Malaya, meanwhile, slammed the ACT party-list, one of the members of the said bloc, that keeps on smearing the Vice President and threatening to impeach her, over speculations about her as Secretary of the Department of Education (DepEd). Duterte is co-vice chair of NTF-ELCAC and has been advocating for the elimination of the CPP-NPA-NDF. “They (ACT) should go back to what they are supposed to be doing,” Malaya said, stressing the party-list’s role of being the representative of teachers in Congress. Malaya said “every year, CPP-NPA-NDF front bloc would attack the SBDP characterizing it as a ‘pork barrel’ of the NTF-ELCAC.” Malaya emphasized that the task force “is simply a coordinating body.” “Ito po (funds) ay binababa diretso sa mga LGUs and it is the barangays themselves who chose what projects these are,” he said, reiterating Iringan’s statement. As liberators and bringers of peace, Año assured the Marcos administration will attain genuine peace, unity and development for the country. “We want to attain lasting peace. Di lang natin dinadala ang mga projects (through BDP) but also provide new life,” Año said, referring to former communist rebels who already surrendered and living with their families a productive and peaceful life. Año also offered an “olive branch” to the Makabayan bloc to work together with the government instead of espousing violence “hitting government efforts for lasting peace.” He chided the three party-lists – Gabriela, Kabataan and ACT – in Congress for being “anti-development” and for demonizing the NTF-ELCAC.


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