PBBM call for more SBDP funding highlights push to empower communities

By Priam Nepomuceno

April 5, 2024, 1:17 pm

MANILA – President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.'s call for the allotment of more funds to the Support to the Barangay Development Program (SBDP) highlights his administration's commitment to empower every community, the country's anti-insurgency body said Friday.

"By significantly increasing financial support for the SBDP, the government is laying the groundwork for a future where every Filipino community is empowered to achieve its full potential," the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) said in a statement.

The SBDP is a program under the auspice of the NTF-ELCAC.

Through this call, the NTF-ELCAC said the Marcos administration reiterates its "unwavering commitment" in building a stronger and united Philippines.

In addition to this financial boost, Marcos also underscored the importance of a sustained and holistic approach to development and peacebuilding across the nation.

This includes the continuous development and implementation of targeted programs and projects for the 5,430 barangays that have been integral to the BDP since its inception in 2021.

"The administration is also in the process of finalizing a comprehensive 2024-2028 Roadmap, spearheaded by the NTF-ELCAC. This strategic plan aims to address the root causes of conflict, empower communities, and unite all sectors in the fight against terrorism, in alignment with the President’s Philippine Development Plan 2023-2038," the NTF-ELCAC said.

On Thursday, National Security Adviser and NTF-ELCAC co-vice chairperson Eduardo Año said the President has ordered a "transformative increase" in funding for the SBDP.

“The President has directed the Cabinet to increase the financial support to the 864 BDP barangays for 2024. He tasked the DBM (Department of Budget and Management) to allow the 864 barangays to access the FALGU (Financial Assistance to LGU) Program so that their requirements for farm-to-market roads and water systems and sanitation can immediately be funded this year. The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the DBM will crunch the numbers and work out the immediate implementation of the President’s directive,” Año said in a Palace press briefing shortly after the NTF-ELCAC’s fifth executive meeting led by the President.

Año said that under the 2024 General Appropriations Act, only a total of PHP2.6 billion or PHP2.5 million for each of the 864 barangays was appropriated.

“The President said that the PHP2.5 million per barangay is small. He said: ‘We have to do more. We have to do better than that. We will try to reach PHP10 million per barangay’,” Año said, quoting the Chief Executive's remarks during the meeting.

The BDP was established with the end goal of bringing development to conflict-affected communities that were cleared of New People's Army influence and control.

Since the program’s inception, a total of PHP30.4 billion have been allocated to benefit some 4,501 barangays nationwide that were freed from the hands of communist terrorists.

Marcos also directed the Cabinet to check the budget allocation for each of the 864 barangays targeted by the SBDP in 2024 beefed up by tapping the FALGU and other possible sources of funds.

This substantial increase from the previous PHP2.5 million allocation per barangay marks a pivotal step in the government's commitment to accelerating development and fostering peace in areas previously marred by conflict.

"By significantly enhancing our investment in these communities, we aim not just to meet, but to exceed their needs for development and peace," Marcos said.

Once made available, this budget enhancement will be earmarked for critical infrastructure projects, including the development of farm-to-market roads and improvements in water systems and sanitation facilities.

These initiatives are expected to drastically improve living conditions, enhance access to markets, and stimulate local economies in the beneficiary barangays.

The DBM was tasked to swiftly and efficiently find the needed budget and ensure that the communities can access enhanced financial support without delay. (PNA)