LIVELIHOOD AID. The Department of Trade and Industry in Negros Oriental is hopeful to get funding aid from local government units in the absence of funding from the national government this year under the End Local Communist Armed Conflict program. The DTI said it already distributed some PHP1.8 million worth of livelihood kits last year to former rebels and other individuals in conflict-affected areas. (PNA file photo)

DUMAGUETE CITY – The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) on Thursday called on the local government units and congressional representatives in Negros Oriental to allocate funds for livelihood assistance to barangays affected by the communist insurgency.

This developed as DTI-Negros Oriental provincial director Nimfa Virtucio said that agency funds intended for the government’s whole-of-nation approach through the Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (TF-ELCAC) have already been fully exhausted.

“We already distributed last year some PHP1.8 million worth of livelihood projects to several former rebels (FRs) and organized groups in areas identified under the TF-ELCAC but unfortunately, we no longer have the money for this year,” Virtucio said during the Kapihan sa PIA forum.

“This is a reality. Government agencies were not given funds for this year,” she said.

Virtucio added that they had to be innovative in using funds intended for DTI’s regular projects and other purposes to continuously accommodate displaced individuals in conflict-affected areas.

Her statement comes as 34 new barangays in Negros Oriental have been identified this year to be included in the TF-ELCAC list of areas already “cleared” of the insurgency and are set to benefit from the government’s various interventions.

Virtucio said the DTI cannot give cash to pre-identified beneficiaries in conflict areas as it is prohibited hence, they distribute goat, cattle, and/or sari-sari store livelihood packages that they procure themselves.

She admitted that with the new barangays identified in the ELCAC list, it is now a “dilemma” for them to find ways to be able to provide livelihood packages, especially for FRs who are promised a new life once they surrender to authorities.

The DTI official is hopeful that the National TF-ELCAC will allocate more funds this year to continue the programs and projects that were initiated during the time of then-President Rodrigo Duterte to end the communist insurgency. (PNA)