MANILA – The mayor of Sadanga in Mountain Province is deeply disappointed over lawmakers who support the 2022 budget cut of the Barangay Development Program (BDP) under the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).
In an interview over SMNI’s “Laban Kasama ang Bayan” on Thursday, Sadanga Mayor Gabino Ganggangan said those who oppose the funding for the BDP want remote villages to stay undeveloped and impoverished, thus, encouraging the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) to recruit more.
“Very unfortunate that we have these senators and party-list members of Congress trying to block the budget, especially of the Barangay Development Program. I see that these people trying to block the funding of the NTF-ELCAC want to perpetuate the hardship of these barangays that have been neglected for decades,” Ganggangan said.
He said it should be celebrated that there is a program that “can reach, can deliver the necessary services to these long-neglected barangays”.
“Some people like the senators and the leftist party-list members are out to block [progress]. These people are trying to deny us of that opportunity,” he said.
Ganggangan said in essence, the denial of the funding for the BDP is like helping the CPP-NPA-NDF.
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 Anti-Terrorism Council also formally designated the NDF as a terrorist organization on June 23, 2021, citing it as “an integral and separate part” of the CPP-NPA that was created in April 1973.
Ganggangan said in his town alone, six villages will be denied the opportunity for progress if BDP funds are slashed.
It is equivalent to PHP120 million that can be used for development programs that were identified by the residents themselves based on their needs.
“You can just imagine the expectations. The barangay is so happy and erxpecting na finally ibibigay na itong needs natin tapos biglang puputulin mo kung sino man ‘yang mga senator na 'yan (that finally their needs will be met then suddenly it will be slashed by those senators, whoever they are),” he said.
Among the projects normally funded through the BDP are farm-to-market roads, water treatment facilities, and water irrigation projects.
The public. he said, should know the names of the senators and congressmen opposing the development of villages.
“Furnish us with the names of those senators including ‘yang mga (those under the) party-list. It’s time that we also actively campaign against these people,” he added.
Ganggangan said for the longest time, fourth to sixth-class municipalities are seen only as resources of raw materials.
He said they did not feel real concern from past governments until the Duterte administration created the NTF-ELCAC.
“Itong ginagawa ng mga kontrabida (These actions by those who oppose), to us it's more than politics. We see it as intentional. They want us to remain poor so we are easily recruited and fight the government. For me, I see that as an exploitation of the Cordillera people,” Ganggangan said.
He said government officials are elected by the people to push for government initiatives and projects.
Instead, he said some lawmakers are doing the opposite.
“It's high time that we know who those people are and expose them in public. Tell the public that these people are not really pushing for the agenda of the government in developing the countryside and what they are doing is the opposite,” he said.
The NTF-ELCAC, created by virtue of Executive Order 70 issued on Dec. 4, 2018, is tasked to “provide an efficient mechanism and structure for the implementation of the whole-of-nation approach to aid in the realization of collective aspirations for inclusive and sustainable peace.”
The BDP, a hallmark program of NTF-ELCAC with the end goal of bringing development to former conflict-prone communities, gives PHP20 million each to insurgency-free villages for farm-to-market roads, classrooms, water and sanitation systems, health stations, and other livelihood projects. (PNA)