Government releases P16.4-billion largesse for villages cleared of communist influence and threat

File photo shows National Security Council Secretary and National Task Force and Regional Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) Vice Chairman Hermogenes Esperon Jr.

Some 822 barangays nationwide declared by security authorities as free of New People’s Army (NPA) threats and influence will each receive P20 million in projects and activities after Congress and President Duterte approved the P16.4-billion budget for the Barangay Development Program (BDP) for this year.

The National Security Council said the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has confirmed the release of P16.4-billion budget for the BDP, which seeks to end poverty caused by insurgency.

National Security Adviser and National Task Force-End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) Vice Chairman Hermogenes Esperon Jr. welcomed the development and expressed gratitude to Congress for approving such important funding.

The P16.4 billion was included in the P4.5-trillion 2021 national budget.

“The BDP is the flagship program of the government for poverty alleviation and development in the context of addressing the root causes of insurgency,” Esperon said in a news statement.

President Duterte is the chairman of the NTF-ELCAC.

Esperon said that while the NTF-ELCAC aims to dismantle the NPA and underground organizations, it is also the commitment of the government to develop villages formerly held by the rebel organizations and uplift the lives of the people.

“We intend to curb the NPA recruitment through holistic development projects that bridge the gap between the needs of the community and accessibility,” Esperon stressed.

For Davao  region, a total of P4.3 billion is allocated for 279 barangays that can be utilized to several projects.

Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado has already issued Local Budget Circular 135, which will serve as the guidelines in releasing NTF-ELCAC’s Local Government Support to the Barangay Development Program (LGSF-SBDP).

Recipients can use the said  funds for farm-to-market roads, school buildings, water and sanitation systems, rural electrification, housing; medical, burial, transportation, food, cash-for-work and educational assistance to indigent person or households.

And due to Covid-19 pandemic, these barangays may also spend their respective budget allocations to build health stations or fund initiatives related to Covid-19 vaccinations, among others, the guidelines said.

Also included among the projects to be funded by the LGSF-SBDP are “reconstruction, rehabilitation, repair and other similar projects in connection with the occurrence of natural, or human-induced calamities, epidemics, crises resulting from armed conflicts, insurgency, terrorism and other catastrophes, Avisado added.

Meanwhile, Esperon appealed to the private sector to join the government in its effort to improve the lives of residents in these specific barangays.

“The NTF-ELCAC, through the Whole of Nation Approach [WONA] truly values improving the lives of Filipinos, unlike the eccentric violence of the CPP-NPA,” he said.

“This is the type of confidence building mechanism we need; not a self-destructing measure. Our strategic framework entails the achievement of a genuine and lasting peace through holistic programs and activities. In spirit and in truth, the core of the NTF-ELCAC is good governance in practice,” Esperon added.

Image credits: PNA/Prexx Marnie Kate Trozo


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