ILOILO CITY – About 10,000 residents of the four upland barangays of Cuartero town in Capiz stand to benefit from the PHP80 million worth of projects funded under the Local Government Support Fund-Support to Barangay Development Program (LGSF-BDP) of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).
In a phone interview Friday, Cuartero Mayor Tito L. Mayo said barangays Carataya, Mahunodhunod, Putian, and San Antonio have long been cleared of the influence of the Communist Party of the Philippines - New People's Army (CPP-NPA).
About 247 sympathizers who are residents of these barangays have already pledged their allegiance to the government, Mayo said.
"The barangays are located around 25 km. away from the town proper. Although they could no longer be considered as remote because they can already be reached by vehicles," he added.
Through needs assessment participated in by barangay officials and residents, the local government was able to identify their priority projects, totaling PHP20 million per village.
"The projects will have a big impact because every barangay has a PHP20 million budget. PHP12 million is allotted to their farm-to-market road, which is the most important because it could help them bring their products down to the town proper," he said.
Based on a document provided to the provincial government by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), other approved projects for the barangays are the installation of solar street lights, the purchase of a rice harvester, the construction of a health station, assistance to indigents worth PHP1.5 million, and the construction of Level II potable water system and sanitation valued at PHP2 million.
"I have no idea if when is the target completion but we are hoping that it will be implemented this month so the people will feel the impact of what they have aspired for," Mayo added.
The funds were downloaded to the provincial government, which will handle the implementation of the projects.
The mayor said these four are among the big barangays of Cuartero's 22 villages.
Since they have mountainous areas, they used to serve as access for rebels coming from the towns of Tapaz and Dumarao going to Maayon.
He added that apart from the four barangays, they endorsed nine other barangays, which have been cleared of CPP-NPA influence, to be funded under the BDP.
They are still waiting for feedback, he said.
Mayo thanked residents who helped free the barangays from rebel influence, expressing hope that it would be sustained.
The BDP is a hallmark program of the NTF-ELCAC with the end goal of bringing development to former conflict-prone communities.
Each of the insurgency-cleared villages has been allocated assistance of PHP20 million, covering a 1-km. farm-to-market road worth PHP12 million; classrooms, PHP3 million; water and sanitation systems, PHP2 million; health station, PHP1.5 million; and livelihood projects, PHP1.5 million.
The CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the United Kingdom, the European Union, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines. (PNA)