Around ninety-nine percent of the total P16.44 billion intended for the Barangay Development Program (BDP) had already been distributed to its recipients, the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) reported Monday, September 20.
NTF vice chairman and National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. said that P16.289 billion (99.03 percent) of the total P16.44 billion BDP fund had been released to the provincial and city governments as of September 9.
“I am pleased to report that despite the challenges of the pandemic, regional task forces are already facilitating the pre-procurement stage of 1,244 projects, the procurement process of 823 projects, and the implementation of 211 projects,” Esperon said in a statement.
He said there were 822 barangays that were included in the first batch of beneficiaries of the BDP after they were “cleared of” and “freed from” the influence of the Communist Party of the Philippines, New People’s Army, and National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) from 2016 to 2019.
He said each of the beneficiaries were entitled to receive P20 million for the delivery of development package which includes the building of farm-to-market roads, health stations, classrooms, water and sanitation systems, rural electrification, and livelihood projects.
Meanwhile, the second batch of beneficiaries include 1,406 barangays that were also “cleared of” and “freed from” CPP-NPA-NDF’s influence from 2020 to the first quarter of 2021, the top security adviser noted.
For this, the NTF-ELCAC is asking the government for a budget of P28.12 billion in 2022 to fund the BDP and allot P20 million each to the barangays.
In total, the two batches of BDP beneficiaries were mostly from:
– Sorsogon: 156 barangays
– Bukidnon: 153 barangays
– Davao de Oro: 106 barangays
– North Cotabato: 93 barangays
– Agusan del Sur: 90 barangays
– Davao City: 85 barangays
– Camarines Sur: 69 barangays
– Surigao del Sur: 69 barangays
– Other provinces/ cities: 1,407 barangays
By region, Bicol (Region 5), Davao (Region 11), and Caraga have the most number of beneficiaries with 329, 317, and 285 recipient barangays respectively.
They were followed by Northern Mindanao (Region 10) with 266 barangays, Eastern Visayas (Region 8) with 206 barangays, and Western Visayas (Region 6) with 165 barangays. The remaining 660 recipient barangays were scattered in the other regions.
The Congress has been deliberating the NTF-ELCAC’s proposed budget next year, including the allocation for the BDP. Lawmakers from the Senate and House of Representatives were divided as to whether or not it would practical to spend too much money on the insurgency problem amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sen. Panfilo Lacson, who was once supportive of the NTF-ELCAC’s budget, now thought that their proposed budget was “a bit too much.” Meanwhile, Gabriela Rep. Arlene Brosas had said that she saw the task force’s budget next year as an “election war chest” in reference to the forthcoming May 2022 national and local elections.
But Esperon defended the BDP as he stressed that the implementation of the NTF-ELCAC’s flagship project is estimated to benefit around 5.22 million Filipinos.
“For decades, the CPP-NPA-NDF Triad had ruined dreams, destroyed families, abused children, oppressed indegenous peoples, and held back the country’s progress,” Esperon said.
“This program is the government’s commitment to rebuild what the Communist Terrorist Group have devastated,” he added.