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Reds, Makabayan bloc losing base

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An official of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) yesterday slammed the Makabayan bloc in the House of Representatives for “spreading fake news” on the government’s Barangay Development Program (BDP).

The BDP seeks to bring development and projects to 822 barangays in remote areas that had been secured from the clutches of the New People’s Army (NPA) and its mother organizations the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

DILG Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya said the Makabayan bloc has been hitting the program because the CPP-NPA-NDFP and their party-list allies are being deprived of their mass base.

“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?” asked Maglaya.

Maglaya was reacting to Bayan Muna Rep. Eufemia Cullamat calling Interior Secretary Eduardo Año “thick-skinned” for proposing an additional P40 billion in the 2022 budget for the 2,000 barangays cleared of communist influence.

The additional budget was sought by the DILG chief for more development projects like farm-to-market roads, schools, houses, health centers, electrification, water and livelihood projects.

“We challenge Rep. Cullamat to prove that a single centavo of the P16.2 billion 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,” Maglaya said.

He told 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 local government units (LGU) that handle the procurement and implementation of the projects.

“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.

As of 18 July 18, the DBM has released P16.26 billion of the P16.44B total allocation of the BDP directly to the concerned LGU 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 before endorsement to the DBM.

Moreover, 509 out of 813 barangays already have their Notice of Authority to Debit Account Issued for the implementation of 1,441 projects.

“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.”
Malaya also belied Makabayan’s claim that the BDP 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 isolated coastal communities with few voters,” the DILG official said.

“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.

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