A total of 15 barangays in Sorsogon will each be receiving P20 million worth of development projects as part of the national government’s program to flush out the influence of the communist rebels in far-flung and underdeveloped parts of the country.
National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr., who is also the vice chairman of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), said the turnover of funds through the Barangay Development Program was marked with the groundbreaking ceremony of one of the development programs in Casiguran town of Sorsogon on Thursday, June 24. Two barangays of Casiguran, Barangays San Pascual and Sta. Cruz, were identified as qualified BDP beneficiaries.
Aside from 15 barangays in Sorsogon, Esperon said 26 barangays in Masbate and eight barangays in Camarines Norte are also expected to receive the same funding this year.
“For this year, there will be a total of 49 barangays in the entire Bicol region which will receive P20 million worth of BDP package for this year,” said Esperon.
“Another 282 barangays in the Bicol Region shall be receiving projects under the BDP for implementation in 2022,” he added.
Based on the BDP program, only barangays which used to be under the influence of Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) are entitled for P20 million worth of development projects. Most of the barangays which were already identified as BDP beneficiaries used to host communist rebel encampments, or serving as NPA Guerilla Base.
During Thursday’s groundbreaking ceremony in Casiguran town, Esperon said they have already identified the projects that will be implemented based on the request of local officials and residents.
For Barangay Sta. Cruz in Casiguran, the projects include a P10 million worth of barangay road that would give easy access of local residents to nearby areas for their farm products and other transportation purposes, two local access roads worth P3 million each, electrification project worth P1 million, expansion of water supply system worth P1 million, and construction of health station and procurement of basic medicines worth P2 million.
In Barangay San Pascual also in Casiguran, the BDP is on construction of road projects.
The multi-billion BDP projects were criticized before over allegations that the bulk of the multi-billion fund went to Davao Region. There were also allegations that the BDP will be used for election purposes.
But Esperon clarified that the identification of the BDP beneficiaries underwent stringent process that depends mostly on the influence of the CPP-NPA.
President Duterte earlier expressed his intention to end CPP-NPA before his term ends in June next year.
Esperon said that in Bicol Region alone, the development projects were affected by the heavy influence of communist rebels over the years. He said the influence of the communist rebels in Bicol was attested by the ambush conducted in Masbate City which left a college football player and his cousin dead.
Citing data from the Philippine Statistics Authority, he said Bicol Reegion posted seven percent unemployment rate and 20.3 percent underemployment rate, both in April 2021. Based on the 2018-2019 data, the poverty incidence in Bicol Region is at 27 percent.