The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) scored the Makabayan bloc in Congress on Tuesday, July 20, for allegedly spreading lies about the Barangay Development Program (BDP).
Bayan Muna Rep Eufemia Cullamat earlier branded DILG Secretary Eduardo Año as “thick-skinned’’ for proposing an additional P40 billion in the 2022 budget for the BDP where 2,000 barangays that have been cleared of New People’s Army (NPA) influence will be allocated with funds for the establishment of various development projects like farm-to-market roads, schools, houses, health centers, electrification, water, and livelihood projects among others.
DILG Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya turned the tables at the Makabayan Bloc, calling it “shameless” and “thick-skinned” for wanting “to deprive the remote barangays of government programs and projects that they have been waiting for in a long time.’’
“Why is the Makabayan Bloc opposing the development of these remote barangays? Is it because they want to keep these areas undeveloped, poor, and isolated so that these can again be infiltrated and even controlled by the New People’s Army?,” Malaya asked.
Malaya, who is also the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) spokesperson for Barangay Development Program, and International Engagement, deplored Cullamat in “claiming without proof” that the funds were allegedly “squandered and wasted.’’
“We challenge Rep. Cullamat to prove that a single centavo of the P16.2 billion [budget] has been squandered and wasted? Where is her evidence? It is easy to make allegations because words are cheap. We ask her to substantiate her claims with hard evidence and file the necessary charges,” Malaya said.
He reminded Cullamat that the BDP funds are not coursed through the NTF ELCAC but are released directly by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to the beneficiary local government units (LGUs) that will handle the procurement process and directly implement the projects.
As of July 18, the DBM has already released P16.26 billion of the P16.44 billion total BDP budget directly to the concerned LGUs to cover 2,281 projects in 813 barangays.
The projects in nine other barangays in Regions 4-A and 4-B are currently awaiting the approval of the Joint Regional Task Forces prior to endorsement to the DBM.
Also, 509 out of 813 barangays already have their notice of authority to debit account issued (NADAI) for the implementation of 1,441 projects.
Malaya said 17 projects in Cordillera Administrative Region, Region I, Region V, Region XI and Region XIII are ongoing while 1,130 projects are in the procurement stage in compliance with Republic Act 9184 or the Government Procurement Act.
“How can Rep. Cullamat claim that the funds were squandered when the majority of the projects are still in the procurement stage? This is clearly because they are biased against the program and refuse to see the hard facts,” he said.
To ensure that transparency and accountability mechanisms are in place, the DILG will utilize online platforms such as “SUBAYBAYAN and DevLive to ensure the timely implementation of the projects,” the DILG official noted.
The Project Monitoring and Evaluation Committees (PMECs) in the LGUs and monitoring platforms within the NTF-ELCAC were also established, according to Malaya.
He branded as fake news the Makabayan’s claim that the BDP will be used to campaign for administration candidates.
“We wish to remind Rep. Cullamat that the beneficiary barangays of this program are not vote-rich barangays. These are far-flung barangays in remote mountainous areas or in isolated coastal communities with few voters. If the purpose was politics, these funds should have been given instead to vote rich areas in urban communities who can tip the forthcoming elections,” Malaya said.
The DILG official also branded as fake news the unobligated and unspent Philippine National Police (PNP) funds for anti-insurgency in 2020 that allegedly have expired.
He explained that the funds are completely intact as there is “no anomaly and in its handling and is considered a continuing appropriation that could be used until December 31 this year as advised by the DBM.’’
PNP chief Gen. Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar had said that due to the pandemic, the P722.955-million fund was only released to the PNP on October 26, 2020.