MANILA – The slashed budget of the government’s anti-insurgency task force will not only affect this year's nationwide implementation of the Barangay Development Program (BDP) but also "breaks the hearts" of the beneficiary communities.
In a press conference on Monday, National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) spokesperson and Communications Undersecretary Lorraine Badoy lamented that hundreds of barangays were expecting to implement the previously discussed development programs within their communities.
But with the budget cut, Badoy said the NTF-ELCAC might not be able to fulfill the other projects in some communist-cleared areas.
“What happened here is we let our kababayans (countrymen) go through the whole process and chose farm-to-market road projects because we told them that we will be giving them 20 million so from January until December they went through that process. They were so excited because they are finally getting farm-to-market roads, water, schools -- those what they really asked for that they never had all these years,” Badoy said.
In December last year, the NTF-ELCAC received PHP17.1 billion budget allocation, which is much lower than the PHP28.1 billion earlier proposed by Malacañang to Congress for the task force's BDP for areas freed from the insurgency.
Since the people in the beneficiary communities already knew that they will be getting PHP20 million for BDP projects, Badoy said they have no choice but to explain why some lawmakers are not amenable to giving them the proposed budget.
“When I talked to the governors whose budgets were slashed, they were really struggling and even the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) -- because they are the ones who will be saying to our kababayans that sorry we don’t have it,” she said.
Badoy cited the insurgency happening because the government did not serve well and the only way to address the problem is by pushing for good governance -- which is the NTF-ELCAC’s main purpose.
“We made them happy, we made them expect, and then when the December comes, we failed them again. These are the communities that for the longest time were held by the communist groups,” she added. “We asked them to carry more than their fair share and then we will ask them again because of these senators. It is heartless.”
Badoy slammed the lawmakers who approved the slashing of the NTF-ELCAC’s 2022 budget.
“It’s just really heartbreaking. Of course, magagawan ng paraan (there’s still a way),” she said.
The task force’s BDP, a counter-insurgency plan, has an initial budget of PHP20 million wherein beneficiary communities can acquire or construct farm-to-market roads, school buildings, water and sanitation systems, livelihood programs, and health stations.
BDP aims to deliver various government programs in conflict-afflicted and geographically isolated villages that have been considered "cleared" from the influence of communist rebels. (PNA)