Sat, 16 Oct 2021

MANILA - A "double validation" has been conducted on the villages that were declared as free from communist insurgency and are set to be included as beneficiaries of the Barangay Development Program (BDP) of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF ELCAC), an official of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) said on Friday.

"The first to conduct validation is the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) because they are in charge of the clearing operations. Once the list of these barangays is submitted to us at the DILG, we validate again through our community support program. The DILG personnel go down to the barangays and conduct an immersion to determine the problems of these barangays and then do some development intervention, to solve their problems, and know why these areas were under the influence of the CPP-NPA (Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army," DILG spokesperson, Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya said in a mix of English and Filipino in a Laging Handa briefing.

Malaya was referring to the 1,406 villages from Bicol, Eastern Visayas, and Caraga that are cleared of the communist terrorists' threat and will be included in the BDP under the NTF ELCAC's proposed budget for next year.

"Sinisugrado ng DILG na lahat ng identified barangays ay legitimate at dinaan sa consultation at ang projects identified ay pinili ng residents. Ang pondo ay hindi dumadaan sa NTF o DILG pero diretso na binababa sa LGU kung saan ang barangay na ito (The DILG guarantees that all identified barangays are legitimate beneficiaries. They were also consulted and the identified projects were selected by the residents. The funds do not go through the NTF or the DILG. but go directly to the LGU where these barangays are located)," Malaya explained.

Last Sept. 9, Interior Secretary Eduardo Ano said a total of 2,318,892 poor individuals residing in Northern Mindanao, Davao Region, and Caraga will benefit from the BDP projects being implemented in these areas.

Ano said that from 2016 to 2019, 822 barangays were declared by the AFP and the Philippine National Police (PNP) as free from NPA infestation.

He emphasized that the barangays in these regions, specifically in the indigenous people (IP) ancestral domain areas have long been exploited by the CPP-NPA due to the lack of basic services and development.

Under the BDP, each barangay recipient will receive a package of programs, activities, and projects (PAPs) worth a total of, and not exceeding, PHP20 million.

As of Sept. 2, Ano said 182 projects are in the implementation stage, 782 projects are in the procurement stage and 1,319 others are in the pre-procurement stage.

Monico Batle, NTF-ELCAC action officer on BDP, earlier said the budget intended for the BDP could not be used by the local government executives (LCEs) for the 2022 elections.

This came after Senate minority leader Franklin Drilon warned that the NTF ELCAC's proposed PHP40 billion budget for 2022 could be used as an "election giveaway".

Batle said Republic Act 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act has enough safeguards to protect the NTF ELCAC funds for development projects specifically intended for the villages cleared of communist terrorist group (CTG) influence.

The CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines. (PNA)

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