The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) today slammed the Makabayan Bloc for spreading fake news about the Barangay Development Program (BDP) which seeks to bring development and projects to some 822 barangays in remote areas that have been cleared of the terrorist New People’s Army and its allied Communist organizations.
DILG Undersecretary and NTF ELCAC Spokesperson Jonathan Malaya said that it is the Makabayan Bloc who is “shameless” and “thick-skinned” for seeking to deprive these remote barangays of government programs and projects that they have been waiting for in a long time.
“Why is the Makabayan Bloc opposing the development of these remote barangays? Is it because they want to keep these areas undeveloped, poor, and isolated so that these can again be infiltrated and even controlled by the New People’s Army?,” he asked.
Cullamat earlier called DILG Secretary Eduardo Año thick-skinned for proposing an additional P40 Billion in the 2022 budget for the 2,000 barangays that have been cleared of Communist terrorists for development projects like farm-to-market roads, schools, houses, health centers, electrification, water and livelihood projects, among others.
Malaya deplored the fake news being manufactured by Bayan Muna Rep. Eufemia Cullamat in claiming without proof that these funds were allegedly squandered and wasted.
“We challenge Rep. Cullamat to prove that a single centavo of the P16.2B has been squandered and wasted? Where is her evidence? It is easy to make allegations because words are cheap. We ask her to substantiate her claims with hard evidence and file the necessary charges,” he said.
He reminded Cullamat that the BDP funds are not coursed through the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF ELCAC) but are released directly by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to the beneficiary LGUs who will handle the procurement process and directly implement the projects.
As of July 18, 2021, the DBM has already released P16.26B of the P16.44B total allocation of the BDP directly to the concerned local government units (LGUs) to cover 2,281 projects of 813 barangays. Projects in the remaining nine barangays in CALABARZON and MIMAROPA are currently awaiting the approval of the Joint Regional Task Forces prior to endorsement to the DBM.
Moreover, 509 out of 813 barangays already have their Notice of Authority to Debit Account Issued (NADAI) for the implementation of 1,441 projects.
Malaya said that Cullamat is crying wolf when there is none. “In fact, as of today, only 17 projects in CAR, Region I, Region V, Region XI and Region XIII are ongoing implementation, while 1,130 projects are in the procurement stage in compliance with RA 9184.”
“How can Rep. Cullamat claim that the funds were squandered when the majority of the projects are still in the procurement stage? This is clearly because they are biased against the program and refuse to see the hard facts,” he said.
“Paminsan-minsan ay lumabas naman kayo sa mga airconditioned offices nyo sa Kongreso at bisitahin ang mga LGUs at mga barangay na target ng BDP para malaman ninyo na nagpapasalamat sila na nabibigyan sila ng atensyon ng gobyerno ngayon,” he said.
To ensure that transparency and accountability mechanisms are in place, the DILG will utilize online platforms such as SUBAYBAYAN and DevLive to ensure the timely implementation of the projects. The Project Monitoring and Evaluation Committees (PMECs) in LGUs and monitoring platforms among within NTF-ELCAC were also established.
Malaya also branded as fake news the Makabayan’s claim that the Barangay Development Program will be used to campaign for administration candidates.
“We wish to remind Rep Cullamat that the beneficiary barangays of this program are not vote-rich barangays. These are far flung barangays in remote mountainous areas or in isolated coastal communities with few voters. If the purpose was politics, these funds should have been given instead to vote rich areas in urban communities who can tip the forthcoming elections,” he said.
He said that maybe the reason why the Makabayan Bloc is worried is because these formerly red barangays used to be their stronghold in the party-list elections.
Moreover, Malaya again branded as fake news the unobligated and unspent Philippine National Police funds for anti-insurgency in 2020 that allegedly have expired. He said that the funds are completely intact and there is no anomaly and in its handling and is considered a continuing appropriation that could be used until December 31 this year as advised by the DBM.
PNP Chief Gen. Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar has clarified that due to the pandemic, the P722.955-million fund was only released to the PNP on October 26, 2020. “Hindi pa ito puwedeng gastusin lahat sa natitirang dalawang buwan ng 2020 dahil sa mahigpit na alituntunin ng batas sa paggastos ng pondo ng taumbayan,” he said.
Support from LGUs
Malaya said that the implementation of the BDP is widely supported by the LGUs all over the Philippines, from the provinces down to the barangays.
“LGUs nationwide have issued resolutions and statements of support for the BDP’s implementation to the barangays in the countryside which have been conflict-ridden for many years due to the atrocities of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA). This just proves that the BDP indeed benefits underserved communities who have been long taken advantage of by CTGs,” he added.
He said that as of July 18, 2021, a total of 904 resolutions and statements of support have been issued to support the implementation of BDP to the 822 beneficiary barangays for the current year. On the other hand, 69 resolutions and statements of support have also been issued for the anticipated implementation of BDP for 2022.