MANILA – Municipal mayors of Oriental Mindoro came to the defense of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) amid lawmakers’ calls to defund and realign the latter’s budget.
The League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP)-Oriental Mindoro Chapter in Resolution No. 4 s. 2021, in a statement dated April 27, said they recognize the significance and the breakthrough developments achieved by the NTF ELCAC most especially in its fight to end insurgency in the countryside through the Barangay Development Program (BDP)
“LMP–Oriental Mindoro is standing by its belief that the ELCAC Program is vital in our desire to provide a more dignified and better-situated life for those living in conflicted and vulnerable communities in our country today,” read the resolution signed by its acting president Elegio Malaluan.
The NTF ELCAC, it added, has provided assistance to communities in order to curb poverty and foster inclusivity which are the two main causes of subversion and armed conflict in the country.
Malaluan said NTF ELCAC’s BDP “is being utilized to bring sustainable grassroots development and empowerment to communities susceptible to recruitment by communist rebels”.
The resolution added that there are 822 barangays freed from the control of the Communist Party of the Philippines-News People’s Army (CPP-NPA), and each of will receive PHP20 million for different projects.
The CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines.
“The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Local Budget Circular 135 and 135-A states that “the breakdown of allocation is PHP12 million for the farm-to-market road; PHP3 million for school classrooms, PHP2 million for water sanitation, PHP1.5 million for health station and PHP1.5 million for livelihood projects that would truly benefit the local communities,” the resolution added.
Barangays, it said, would have to submit their requests for funding, which would, in turn, have to be approved by both the regional NTF-ELCAC and the DBM Central Office, and that the LGU is tasked to monitor the implementation of the projects.
The public may also report any incidents of misuse, corruption, and malversation of funds to concerned authorities, it said.
“LMP-Oriental Mindoro believes that the program incites and provides a motivating factor for communities around the country to intensify their campaign against insurgency while addressing the underlying root causes, and also serve as a preventive measure to discourage the return of communist rebels to the already cleared barangays,” the resolution read.
The lawmaker's call to defund the NTF ELCAC came in the midst of red-tagging issues with community pantry volunteers and organizers.
Malacanang expressed support for community pantries and any other initiatives that would benefit the public in general and promote the Bayanihan spirit but also opposed solons calls to defund the NTF ELCAC.
Meanwhile, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon, Jr., who is NTF ELCAC's vice-chairperson, earlier assured that there is no misuse of the NTF ELCAC’s funds.
Esperon said PHP16.5 billion of NTF ELCAC’s PHP19-billion budget for 2021, is allotted for the BDP which goes directly to local government units from the DBM.
Defunding the NTF ELCAC, he added, would affect the government’s anti-insurgency efforts most especially in countryside communities.
He said the BDP's core projects aim to develop farm-to-market roads, classrooms, water and sanitation systems, health stations, and livelihood projects in communities. (PNA)