NTF-ELCAC submitted full report on budget spending, Esperon insists
By Martin Sadongdong / Manila Bulletin
The National Task Force on Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) maintained on Saturday, Nov. 13, that it has been transparent as to how the P16.44-billion budget for the implementation of the Barangay Development Program (BDP) is being spent this year.
National Security Adviser (NSA) and NTF-ELCAC vice chairman Hermogenes Esperon Jr., in a statement sent to reporters, said the NTF-ELCAC already forwarded their accomplishment reports to both chambers of the Congress in coordination with the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).
“To clarify, the NTF-ELCAC had submitted its accomplishment reports for the first to third quarter of 2021. These have been duly received both at the Senate and House of Representatives,” he said.
Esperon’s remarks came after the Senate committee on finance deliberated on the 2022 budget of the NTF-ELCAC last Thursday where senators questioned the task force’s spending this year.
Senator Sonny Angara, chairman of the Senate committee on finance and the principal sponsor of the 2022 General Appropriations Bill (GAB), reported that only 26 out of 2,318 projects under the BDP were finished so far.
But Esperon said 100 percent of the BDP funds have already been released to local government units (LGUs) through the Bureau of Treasury’s release of Notice of Authority to Debit Account Issued (NADAI).
“Upon release of the NADAI to the local government units concerned, the funds are now deemed available for use in the procurement process of all the requirements needed for the projects requested by the barangay,” Esperon explained.
A total of 822 barangays that were cleared of communist influence from 2016 to 2019 qualified as beneficiaries of the BDP.
Each barangay is entitled to P20 million worth of development package which includes the establishment of farm-to-market roads, health stations, classrooms, water and sanitation systems, rural electrification, and livelihood projects depending on the request of local chief executives.
Esperon said that out of the 2,318 BDP projects that were set, 26 proects have been completed; 582 projects are ongoing; 1,047 projects are in the procurement stage; and 663 projects are in the pre-procurement phase.
“While we are aware that the fund utilization is up to December 21, 2022, we are confident that most, if not all, of the 2,318 projects will be completed by the middle of 2022,” Esperon said.
“To this end, I categorically state that the NTF-ELCAC has not been remiss in its reportorial requirements in connection with the P16.44 billion Barangay Development Program,” he added.
Esperon continued to appeal to the senators to reconsider their decision after they slashed the proposed budget of NTF-ELCAC in 2022 from P28.12 billion to P4 billion.
He said the task force’s budget next year will cover the implementation of the BDP in 1,406 communities which were cleared of communist influence from 2020 to 2021.