NTF-Elcac to seek P47B for bgay devt, Phase 2
By Samuel P. Medenilla / BusinessMirror
THE government’s anti-insurgency task force will be requesting for P47 billion for the second round of its controversial barangay development program (BDP) next year.
The National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-Elcac) is now eyeing to enroll an additional 2,368 barangays in its BDP.
In an exclusive interview with the BusinessMirror, NTF-Elcac BDP Action Officer Monico Batle said of the said barangays, 962, were freed by the military from the control of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) from 2011 to 2015.
The other 1,406 barangays were cleared from the communist rebels’ presence last year.
“If this is approved by Congress and Senate, all of the cleared barangays from 2011 to the present will be covered [by the BDP],” Batle said.
Under BDP, cleared former strongholds of the CPP-NPA will each be given a P20 million subsidy to be used for the construction of any of the following: farm-to-market roads; schools; health station; water, and sanitation system; and rural electrification and livelihood.
Currently, owing to budget limitations, the program only has 822 enrolled barangays, which include those cleared from 2016 to 2019, Batle said.
As of last Friday, he said 812 of these barangays already have their proposed BDP project approved and were already given the necessary funding for it.
Of the P16.44-billion BDP budget this year, P16.24 billion were already disbursed to the concerned beneficiary.
The bulk or P11.6 billion of the released budget were allocated for farm-to-market roads.
NTF-Elcac spokesperson and Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Undersecretary Lorraine Marie Badoy said farm-to-market roads are the most requested BDP project since these allow isolated barangays to access government services as well as potential markets for their goods.
“So it is going to make their lives so much easier. Terrorists know this so it will explain why they usually burn equipment for building of roads and bridges,” Badoy explained.
Batle said 95 percent of the approved projects are still undergoing bidding since the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) only started releasing the BDP funding last April.
“We expect the said projects to jump-start by the third quarter of the year,” Batle said.
The NTF-Elcac official said they are closely monitoring the progress of the projects since this could “make or break” their budget proposal for the 2022 National Expenditure Program.
The BDP is currently under scrutiny after some lawmakers alleged it is being used as pork barrel of some military generals.
Badoy belied the allegation, stressing the BDP fund is held by DBM and directly released to the concerned local government unit (LGU).
“They could follow the money trail if they want to. We could also provide them the necessary supporting documents,” Badoy added.
She said they have a dedicated website where the public can monitor the progress of BDP implementation in real time.
Badoy said they want the BDP to be institutionalized through a new legislation, asserting that it could help end the over half a century of communist insurgency in the country.
“The bigger problem is really poor governance. This terrorism of 52 years is a symptom of the absence of government in those areas,” Badoy said.
“I think that if we will not be able to sustain [the BDP], the insurgency and terrorists will return in those areas,” she added.
She said there are currently proposals in Congress for the institutionalization of the BDP.