CONTRARY to the claims of some opposition, the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NFT-ELCAC) clarified that it has no control over the budget of the Barangay Development Program (BDP).
National Security adviser and NTF-ELCAC vice chairman Hermogenes Esperon Jr. stressed that the funds were downloaded to different departments tasked to implement several projects that include farm-to-market road, school buildings and livelihood projects in the chosen barangays.
“The NTF-ELCAC does not, in any circumstances, control nor manipulate the funds appropriated for the BDP. Rather, the NTF-ELCAC is responsible for harmonizing and coordinating the efforts both on the national and local level,” Esperon said in a statement in response to those saying that the budget is a general pork barrel.
Under the proposed 2022 national budget, the BDP, which is the flagship project of the Duterte administration, will be getting P28.1 billion or P11.66 billion higher than this year’s budget.
Communities receiving the BDP are classified as those which were formerly strongholds or under the influence of the CPP-NPA-NDF fronts and are now ripe for development interventions by the government.
For 2022, a total of 1,406 barangays cleared of insurgency and threat will be included in the BDP. Most of these barangays are located in Bicol, Eastern Visayas and CARAGA.
Esperon further said that the NTF-ELCAC’ main role is not to control the funds but to continuously inspect and monitor the implementation of the projects in the barangays.
Each barangay-recipient shall be receiving a package of programs, activities and projects worth a total of P20 million.
“I take this opportunity to clarify that in no manner has there been preferential treatment as to the identification of barangay recipients. To be specific, Mindanao has the most number of cleared barangays from 2016-2019,” Esperon said.
As of September 3, 2021, about 99.3 percent of the BDP funds have already been released by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) directly to the respective provincial and city governments where the barangays are located.
“In the interest of accountability and transparency, measures of transparency are in place for the implementation of the BBP. Pursuant to its mandate, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) shall monitor and evaluate projects under the BDP. Officials from the head office of the NTF-ELCAC will also continuously inspect and monitor the implementation of the projects. Finally, Regional Task Forces of NTF-ELCAC which are all led by Cabinet members will conduct their own inspections,” he said.
Esperon also pointed out that the DILG and NTF-ELCAC use different monitoring tools based on the Regional Project Monitoring and Evaluation System (RPMES) of NEDA, the DILG’s Subaybayan website, the BDP Transparency Page at the NTF-ELCAC website, third party monitoring by non-government organizations, and several social media accounts of local government units as per DILG Memorandum Circular 2021-040.
All these overlapping mechanisms ensure that the highest standards of transparency and accountability are followed, he noted.
“In the name of good governance, we take it upon ourselves to ensure that all possible means to the attainment of our objectives at the NTF-ELCAC are met. As public servants, our sworn duty is to our countrymen first and foremost. At the NTF-ELCAC, we cannot allow that these communities are subject to the whims and caprices of politics, especially since for these people, the BDP is a primary answer to their collective aspirations for a better life,” the officer said.