(Photo from Google Maps)

Eight barangays in Palawan have been included as beneficiaries of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict’s (NTF ELCAC) Barangay Development Program (BDP) projects totaling half a billion pesos for the MIMAROPA region.

In a statement released Thursday, October 28, by the Palawan PTF ELCAC, it said the barangays listed as beneficiaries are barangays Samariniana, Salogon, Saraza, and Amas in Brooke’s Point; Abaroan, Dumarao, and Magara in Roxas, and Kemdeng in San Vicente.

Each will receive P20 million from the BDP funds, the PTF ELCAC said, after passing through the area clearing process carried out under the Community Support Program (CSP) of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

The BDP is primarily aimed at protecting the communities from the recruitment of members of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA), the provincial task force said.

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“Ang mga nabanggit na barangay ang naunang mapagkakalooban ng tig P20 milyon para sa mga proyektong pang istraktura katulad ng farm-to-market roads, school buildings, health stations, rural electrification, reconstruction, rehabilitation, at repair, at housing, kabilang din ang COVID-19 vaccination, agricultural, livelihood, and technical-vocational training and projects,” the PTF ELCAC said.

“Layunin nito na mailayo at maprotektahan ang mga mamamayan sa pag-oorganisa o recruitment na ginagawa ng CPP- NPA. Ganoon din, upang malaman ang mga problema sa bawat komunidad na malimit ay nagsisilbing dahilan upang ang mga tao ay mahikayat na mag-rebelde sa pamahalaan,” it added.

PTF ELCAC said the leadership of Governor Jose Alvarez, its chairman, has facilitated the submission of required documents to implement the BDP projects for the said barangays.

Currently, the province is waiting for the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to download the funds.

Duterte to visit BDP projects
The NTF ELCAC said P500 million in BDP projects are now being implemented in MIMAROPA, which President Rodrigo R. Duterte is slated to visit on November 4.

“Of the 822 barangay recipients for 2021, 25 are found in MIMAROPA wherein a total of 109 BDP projects worth P500,000,000 are in the implementation stage,” said National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) vice-chair Hermogenes Esperon Jr. in a statement Tuesday, November 2.

Esperon said cleared barangays will be receiving a package of development programs worth P20 million per village through BDP alone.

These consist of five BDP core projects which include farm-to-market roads, school buildings, water and sanitation systems, livelihood programs, and health stations, he added.

“Other national government agencies shall be providing additional programs to augment the BDP as necessary,” said Esperon, who is also a national security adviser.

He added that these projects will ensure that communities are fully equipped “with the essentials required for a respectable standard of living.”

“Local government support to the BDP has been led by Governors and Mayors. More local chief executives have come out with their support for the second batch of BDP. For FY (Fiscal Year) 2022, a total of 54 barangays in Mimaropa are to receive BDP packages in the region. Overall, a total of 1,406 barangays nationwide will receive the BDP funds of PHP20 million per barangay in 2022,” Esperon added.

He said that the NTF-ELCAC gives value to the intrinsic role of the local communities in nation-building.

“As such, the NTF-ELCAC continuously seeks innovative ways to ensure that all of our communities partner with us in our shared goals towards the advancement of the Philippines. The BDP remains our strongest tool and our deepest commitment to all Filipinos, especially to those affected by the atrocities of the CPP-NPA-NDF (Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front) that they are the government’s foremost priority in the pursuit of peace and development,” Esperon said.

He also noted that the Regional Task Force-ELCAC (RTF-ELCAC) has implemented several activities to aid communities out of poverty and stagnation.

Duterte, who is NTF-ELCAC chair, will be visiting MIMAROPA as the RTF-ELCAC highlights the administration’s legacy towards development and peace being implemented in the area, Esperon said.

This includes sustainable agriculture and livelihood programs such as Project Save and Project Sagip which have assisted local farming communities for their sustenance.

“Livelihood assistance were likewise provided to a total of 224 regular New People’s Army surrenderers who have returned to the folds of the law from 2020 to 2021,” Esperon said.

He also said MIMAROPA’s peace and security is effectively managed through the joint efforts of the security forces and civilian agencies in the region.

“I am proud to note that from 2020 to 2021, two guerilla fronts have been significantly weakened while one has been dismantled. Communities which were cleared of the threat and influence of the CPP-NPA-NDF through Guerilla Fronts now constitute the first batch recipients of the BDP,” Esperon added.

The NTF-ELCAC vice-chair said Duterte, as a former mayor and a strong proponent of local government development, has pushed for several development initiatives which promote inclusivity and sustainability.

“These undertakings, particularly aimed at poverty alleviation, addressing basic human needs, and rural progress, were conceptualized to address the root causes and issues being exploited by the communist terrorist group (CTG) for its recruitment,” Esperon said.

Socio-economic programs
In pursuit of this end, Esperon said Duterte had directed the government to enhance its support for existing socio-economic programs which include free tertiary education, free irrigation, universal healthcare, the improved Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), and the Build, Build Program.

“Altogether, these programs are synchronized further narrowing the gaps in the socio-economic conditions of the country. These initiatives on enhanced social welfare, job creation, livelihood assistance, and infrastructure development, are the foundations by which we create inclusive and sustainable growth,” he added.

He said to complement Duterte’s rural development agenda, the BDP was conceptualized to give emphasis to communities that need the government’s immediate assistance.

“Through these extensive reinforcements of our barangays, the President is ensuring to generations of Filipinos that no one is to be left behind,” he added.

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