BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN
The P500 million worth of infrastructure projects for 25 insurgency-cleared barangays of seven local government units in Negros Occidental has already been downloaded and ready for disposal, Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson said yesterday.
Each of the insurgency-cleared barangay will receive P20 million under the Support to Barangay Development Program of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict, Lacson said.
Lacson advised local chief executives of towns and cities, whose barangays are BDP recipients, to coordinate with Provincial Engineer Ernie Mapa, who will help them in the program of works.
Fourteen of the 25 insurgency-cleared barangays are located in Escalante City, five in San Carlos City, two in Victorias City, and one each in EB Magalona, Himamaylan City, Manapla, and Cadiz City, the Department of Interior and Local Government said.
The Provincial Peace and Order Council of Negros Occidental, chaired by Lacson, also unanimously approved yesterday a resolution supporting the sustainability of the NTF-ELCAC funds, in the wake of the move of some lawmakers to reallocate the P19 billion BDP funds, amid Red-tagging issue.
Col. Inocencio Pasaporte, 303rd Infantry Brigade commander, who attended the joint PPOC- Provincial Anti-Drug Abuse Council meeting at the Provincial Capitol Social Hall in Bacolod City, clarified that the concerned local government units will handle the BDP funds, and not the Philippine Army.
“We will only monitor the implementation of the projects,” Pasaporte said.
He also said that the barangays declared as insurgency-free last year and next year will also receive similar infrastructure projects under NTF-ELCAC.
Escalante City Mayor Melecio Yap, in the manifesto of support he issued, said that the programs implemented under NTF-ELCAC brought about the life-changing opportunities to former rebels as they reintegrate into society.
Escalantehanons, being peace-loving people, commended the efforts of the NTF-ELCAC in the anti-insurgency campaign and its programs, such as the BDP, that will pave the way for the construction of roads, water systems, and facilities to cater the needs of the people, Yap said.
Having initiated the Peace Summit, that hosted the biggest surrender of former rebels and NPA members, Yap said Escalante is not new to insurgency and violence.
“And we do not want to experience that again,” he added.
The move to defund the NTF-ELCAC will not only put a halt to already successful pro-active programs, but will ultimately hamper government efforts to put an end to communism and insurgency, Yap added.*