BDP budget slash may endanger NPA-cleared barangays – DILG

Published December 21, 2021, 6:56 AM

by Chito Chavez

An official of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) expressed fear that many barangays may be susceptible to the influence of the communist rebels anew after Congress made a big cut on the budget of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).

DILG Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya insinuated that this would e taken advantage by the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) to strengthen their mass base which was affected by the aggressive development programs in the countryside.

With the reduced NTF-ELCAC budget, Malaya explained that the task force is left with no choice but to immediately convene and discuss the realignment o the fund allocation for each barangay.

The NTF-ELCAC budget includes the funding of the Barangay Development Program (BDP)

“There is an entire possibility that there will be barangays who will not receive some projects or other barangays will have a reduction of projects. NTF-ELCAC should meet or NSA (National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr., Task Force Vice Chairman) should call for a meeting para mapaghandaan ang reduction (to prepare for the budget slash),’’ Malaya said.

Malaya noted that the said projects for the intended 1,406 barangays in 2022 have already gone through a long process and were chosen by the barangay residents themselves.

“So ang mangyayari po nito ay imbes na complete package ang makukuha nila. Kung humihingi sila ng (funds for) kalsada, school building at water sanitation systems, baka ang maipagawa na lang po natin ay kalasada (So what will happen is instead of the complete package that they (barangays) will get, if they request or roads, school building and water sanitation system most likely what will just be built are roads,’’ Malaya explained.

Under these circumstances, Malaya added “but in any case, there will be a dramatic reduction in the projects that will be implemented by government,’’

The Task Force spokesperson on Local Government Affairs and BDP added “BDP is not a pork barrel project”.

Expounding further, Malaya pointed out that this year alone the BDP has a total of 2,318 “on-going projects’ for conflict-affected barangays to enable them to resist the lies and intimidations of the CPP-NPA-NDF and gain their support, after military and police efforts drove them away from these communities.’’

“Ako mismo ang bumisita dito at napuntahan ko ang mga proyektong ito (I visited those projects). I saw for myself the benefit of these programs para sa ating mga kababayan (for our countrymen). So these projects are very, very important to the barangays that are BDP beneficiaries. But it (P17.1 billion) is a far cry from the P28.1 billion for the 1,406 barangays (programmed to be beneficiaries) for 2022. The implementation is that we reduce the number of barangays or reduce the budget per barangay. Ipinangako na ng pamahalaan ito kailangang tuparin (This is a promise that the government should keep),” Malaya said. (Chito A. Chavez)