DUMAGUETE CITY, May 10 (PIA) - All barangays in Negros Oriental identified as priority areas under the government's "whole of nation approach" to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (ELCAC) program can expect a P20-M budget allocation from the government for the implementation of their Barangay Development Plans (BDP) next year.
This was disclosed by Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG- 7) Regional Director Leocadio Trovela who said that ELCAC priority barangays in Central Visayas are included in the second batch of beneficiaries of BDP funding which is slated for release in 2022.
BDP is one of the initiatives of NTF ELCAC that directly engages citizens, especially the barangays in conflict-affected and Geographically Isolated and Disadvantaged Areas (GIDAs), which were exploited by alleged communist-terrorist group Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army (CPP-NPA).
This program is anchored on good governance, community empowerment, and effective delivery of basic services with the aim of upholding the welfare of people and fully eradicate the roots of insurgency in communities.
A total of P16.44-B was allocated for the implementation of BDP programs in 822 barangays nationwide that are included in the first batch of beneficiaries.
The financial assistance can be used for the construction of farm-to-market roads, school buildings, water and sanitation systems, health systems, rural electrification systems, rehabilitation of projects affected natural or human-induced calamities, housing, COVID-19 vaccination and other health related projects, livelihood programs, and assistance to individuals in crisis whether burial, transportation, medical, education, or cash for work.
DILG is the lead agency of the Basic Services clusters of the Regional Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (RTF ELCAC).
Each barangay will receive P20-M for their BDP project.
All of them have ongoing BDP projects as of this year while some has just started implementing their projects.
Trovela said around 83 barangays in Region 7 have been listed as beneficiaries for the second batch.
In Negros Oriental, there are 26 barangays included in the second batch.
Trovela said Central Visayas was not part of the 1st batch of recipients of the P20-M BDP funding.
"Di ba mayroon tayong focus barangays. Iyong 16 (sa first batch). Iyong 16 na iyon hindi talaga sila nakasama sa BDP kasi na-cleared siya beyond 2019. Iyong first priority 800 plus barangays na-cleared bago mag-2019. Meaning sa cut-off (We have 16 focus barangays included in the first batch. However, it was not included in the initial BDP rollout because they were cleared beyond 2019. Those who are included in 800 plus barangays were cleared before 2019. It didn't make it through the cut-off)," Trovela explained.
The DILG official was referring to the first 16 barangays in Negros Oriental that were identified as the initial priority areas for ELCAC.
In 2020, the Negros Oriental Task Force ELCAC added 10 barangays in the priority list.
Despite not being included in the 822 barangays, Trovela emphasized that the Provincial and Regional Task Forces on ELCAC exerted efforts to engage citizens of these villages and provide basic government services to their doorstep.
"Ang kagandahan sa PTF ELCAC hindi natin pinabayaan ang 16. Diba nagkaroon tayo ng consultation. Nag-identify sila (barangay officials) ng priorities and na-recast nila iyong BDP tapos duly endorsed by the Local Development Council then tinutukan namin sa region hanggang sa Regional Development Council (The good thing about the PTF ELCAC is that it didn't abandon the 16 barangays. It conducted consultations with them. Barangay officials identified their prioriy programs and recasted their BDPs. These were endorsed to the Local Development Council and we worked on it until it reached the RDC level)," Trovela said.
All these projects were endorsed to RDC for funding.
He also added that even though these barangays did not receive P20-M as of the moment, some national government agencies have extended programs, services, and interventions to these priority barangays using their own agency budget.
"Mas maganda ang intervention natin kasi kahit wala pa iyong P20 million may intervention na tayo sa kanila pero mayroon pa rin sila P20 million for this batch (Our intervention here is good. Even though we were not given P20 million, we still extended interventions to them. This time they can expect the P20 million)," he noted.
Also part of NOTF ELCAC's strategies to reach out to communities affected by insurgency is through the conduct of Serbisyo Caravans where government agencies extend medical services, consultation and advisory services, provide seedlings and farm implements, hold free civil registration, and issuance of other clearances.
Early this year, NOTF ELCAC conducted a Serbisyo Caravan in Brgy. Budlasan in Canlaon City.
The task force also held a similar activity in Brgy. Luyang on April 30 and Brgy. Bagtic, both in Mabinay town, on May 5.
Another Serbisyo Caravan will be held on May 12 in Brgy. Samac, Mabinay.
On the issue of defunding of ELCAC funds, Trovela hopes that this will not push through since the budget is important for the implementation of these programs.
"We are not for defunding. Dito sa atin sa Negros kinailangan na kailangan natin ng funding for the barangays. Massive ang ating engagement sa community. We assisted them on the identification of the project. In fact, we now have an ongoing engagement at the priority barangays. Nag-submit sila ng barangay development plan for 2022 (We need the budget here in Negros to fund these programs in the barangays. We have massive engagement with the community. They already submitted the BDP for 2022)," Trovela added. (ral/PIA7-Negros Oriental)