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‘Find ways to fund BDP projects’– PBBM

PH now out of Top 10 countries under siege by terrorism

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PRESIDENT Ferdinand Marcos Jr. has instructed the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) gave instruction to “find ways” to restore the P10 million allocation for each barangay under the Barangay Development Program (BDP) of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).

NTF-ELCAC Executive Director Undersecretary Ernesto ‘Jun’ Tores said the Chief Executive gave the instruction during the executive committee meeting of the task force last April 4.

This, after Pres. Marcos was informed that the bicameral conference committee of both chambers of Congress that reconciled the 2024 national budget before sending the for signature by the President last December 2023 decided to nearly defund the BDP by slashing the allocation from P10 million per barangay to just P2.5 million.

During the Strategic Communication (StratComm) Cluster meeting of the NTF-ELCAC last April 16, 2024, National Security Council Assistant Secretary Jonathan Malaya informed the group that while Congress and the Senate agreed to retain the P10 million budget covering some 864 barangays or P8.64 billion that was proposed by the task force, the amount was drastically reduced to just P2.5 million by Congress for still unclear reasons, or a mere P2.160 billion.

The BDP, not focused military operations, is the most crucial component of the government’s anti-insurgency and anti-terrorism campaign as it is a demonstration of its commitment to uplift the lives and welfare of Filipinos, especially those living in far-flung communities or ‘GIDAs’ (geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas).

These areas have been proven to be the breeding ground for terrorism, especially by the communist terrorist groups (CTGs).

In his directive, Pres. Marcos told the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), to work out how the targeted villages can access the DILG’s Financial Assistance to LGUs (FALGU) to compensate for the amount taken away by Congress.

“The President has directed the Cabinet to increase the financial support to the 864 BDP barangays for 2024. He tasked the DBM to allow the 864 barangays to access the FALGU so that their requirements for farm-to-market roads and water systems and sanitation can immediately be funded this year.

The BDP, not focused military operations, is the most crucial component of the government’s anti-insurgency and anti-terrorism campaign as it is a demonstration of its commitment to uplift the lives and welfare of Filipinos, especially those living in far-flung communities or ‘GIDAs’ (geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas).

“The DBM and the DILG will crunch the numbers and work out the immediate implementation of the President’s directive,” National Security Adviser and NTF-ELCAC co-vice chairperson Secretary Eduardo M. Ano said.

Congress not always on board towards lasting peace

Although the mandate of the NTF-ELCAC under Executive Order (EO) 70, calls for a ‘whole of nation/whole of government’ strategy to finally end the more than 50 years of communist terrorism being waged by the Communist Party of the Philippines, its armed wing, the New People’s Army and its united front umbrella, the National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF), Congress has time and again proven itself as an obstacle to achieving the main goals of the NTF-ELCAC for genuine national reconciliation and stable and lasting peace.

Originally, the NTF-ELCAC has proposed the allocation of P20 million per barangay under the BDP but Congress’ support was only firm during the 2020-2021 fiscal year, when 822 GIDAs were beneficiaries of the program.

Starting from the fiscal year of 2022, there has been a fierce struggle between the NTF-ELCAC and its supporters versus the leadership of both chambers of Congress and the front organizations of the CPP inside and outside of Congress over the amount of money needed to sustain the BDP.

With then Senate Minority Leader and Liberal Party stalwart, Franklin Drilon leading the way and doing the prodding, the Senate, for the 2022 fiscal year nearly defunded the BDP by slashing its proposed budget of P28.1 billion covering 1,604 villages to a mere P4.11 billion (see also Pinoy Exposé, November 15, 2021). In the end, the “compromise” budget was settled at P10 billion.

And presently, it is down to just P2.160 billion, an amount that greatly alarmed Pres. Marcos Jr.

Big jump in global terrorism index

In 2018, the Philippines is already ranked 10th in the ‘Global Terrorism Index’ (GTI) compiled by the Institute for Economic and Peace (IEP) based in Australia and further slide down to 9th place the following year.

The GTI ranking started appearing in 2012, in the aftermath of the ‘9/11’ terrorist attack in the United States. The GTI analyzes the impact of terrorism on countries based on four factors: total number of terrorist incidents, fatalities, injuries, and hostages.

But in the 5 years since the creation of the NTF-ELCAC, the Philippines steadily improve in the standing, registering 17th place in 2022, 18th place in 2023 and notching a step higher at 19th place this year.

The IEP noted that boosting the Philippines’ standing was the “waning insurgency” in the country mainly being waged by the CPP-NPA-NDF. A big credit to this development is the effectiveness of the BDP that convinced former terrorist supporters on the sincerity of the government.

Despite the country’s big leap in the GTI, it remains as the second country most impacted by terrorism in the Asia-Pacific region after Myanmar, indicating that much effort still needs to be done by the government.

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