CEBU CITY – Defunding the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) will rekindle anti-government sentiments of some village residents and may again be used by the Reds in agitating the people, the head of the regional task force (RTF) in Central Visayas said on Friday.
Lawyer Leocadio Trovela, Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG)-Central Visayas regional director and head of RTF-ELCAC-7, said realigning NTF-ELCAC budget to programs unrelated to insurgency will have a “great impact” on the gains of the government in the fight against local armed conflict.
“With NTF-ELCAC, we bring the government closer to the people. If we defund it, it means that we are not fulfilling our promised projects. Kaya nga dun sila sumosuporta dati sa kabila kasi hindi nila nakikita ang gobyerno. (Dahil) sa NTF-ELCAC, ang gobyerno mismo ang lumalapit sa mga tao (That was the reason they used to support the other side because they didn’t usually see the government. Because of the NTF-ELCAC, the government itself is now closer to the people,” Trovela told the Philippine News Agency in an interview.
At least 53 barangays in Cebu, Bohol and Negros Oriental would be affected if the NTF-ELCAC would be defunded, he noted.
Each of these villages stand to lose PHP20 million in funds from the task force’s Barangay Development Program (BDP) framework.
Trovela specifically mentioned the case of Negros Oriental which, he said, needs special attention in terms of village and zone or purok-level development projects that are conceptualized for the benefit of the residents.
He said the government has gained grounds in the fight against communist insurgency, considering that it is the villagers themselves who have denounced the terroristic acts of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army- National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) and sworn to cooperate with the government by proposing development projects.
Through the country’s anti-insurgency task force, the national government has empowered local government units in initiating peace dialogues with the residents, he said.
Before the NTF-ELCAC was established, the military had the final say in addressing insurgency but now, the local chief executives’ decisions are afforded with great weight, Trovela said.
He said projects proposed under the BDP are “directed, targeted and purposive” and are being proposed by the residents themselves.
“Talagang mga proyekto yan na kinakailangan ng mga tawo sa barangay, kagaya ng farm-to-market roads, access roads, water for their farm, potable water, livelihood, at education na talagang basic na basic (Those are really projects that the people in the barangay need, such as farm-to-market roads, access roads, water for their farm, potable water, livelihood, and education that are really very basic),” he said.
The projects proposed under the BDP framework, he said, have undergone consultation in the barangay and even down to the purok level, to make sure these are what the people really need.
“Basic services ang talagang unang issue kaya sumuporta sila sa kabila. Naibigay na natin yung basic services, ang kulang na lang is how to sustain it (Basic services really was the first issue that’s why they supported the other side. We have already provided the basic services, the only thing missing now is how to sustain it),” Trovela said.
In order to qualify for BDP projects, a barangay needs to be declared as insurgency-cleared.
Some lawmakers have proposed defunding the national task force to “vent frustration” over red-tagging. The call was triggered by the alleged red-tagging of community pantry organizers by NTF-ELCAC spokesperson, Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade.
The NTF-ELCAC’s PHP16.5-billion budget has been allotted for the BDP to help in addressing the root causes of insurgency, as well as in bringing peace to communities already cleared of communist influence. (PNA)
Credit belongs to : www.pna.gov.ph