July 17, 2024

Funds for anti-insurgency projects implemented in the barangays have been significantly reduced this year, but the Department of the Interior and Local Government-Cordillera assured government agencies will continue reaching out to the far-flung communities.

DILG-Cordillera Director Araceli San Jose said the government cut the fund for the Support to the Barangay Development Program (SBDP) from P20 million each barangay in 2021 to P4M this year.

The SBDP is the banner program of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-Elcac) that aims to provide infrastructure projects and social services to geographically isolated communities.

Primarily, the program is implemented in barangays considered cleared from the influence of the New People’s Army rebels as identified by the NTF-Elcac.

San Jose said despite the budget cut, government line agencies will continue reaching out to the far-flung areas in the region to bring government services to the people and lure them away from the influence of armed groups.

This year, the DILG and the Regional Task Force-Elcac endorsed 42 barangays for the SBDP, but San Jose said funds are yet to be released to the municipal government, which will implement the projects this year. Last year, SBDP projects were implemented by the provincial government.

In 2021, eight barangays in the Cordillera were identified as beneficiaries of the SBDP –  four in Malibcong and two in Sallapadan, both in Abra; one in Rizal, Kalinga; and one in Besao, Mountain Province.

Twenty-six projects, worth a total of P160M, are being implemented in the region; six of which are already completed.

These are the access roads at Barangay Tamboan in Besao, Mountain Province and the access road, health center, and water works system at Barangay Babalag East in Rizal, Kalinga.

In Abra, San Jose said seven projects are substantially completed. The national and regional Task Force Elcac was set to monitor the projects implemented in the province last week.

San Jose said they are hoping the SBDP projects funded in 2021 will be completed before the funds lapse in December.

The government allocated in 2021 P16.4 billion for the SBDP, covering 822 barangays all over the country.

Among other projects, the fund must be spent for the construction of farm-to-market roads, health centers, school buildings, and water and sanitation systems, according to the circular issued by the Department of Budget Management. – Jane B. Cadalig