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P12.3 billion aid to NPA-free barangays released

Romina Cabrera (The Philippine Star) - May 14, 2021 - 12:00am

BAGUIO CITY – A total of P12.3 billion or 75 percent of the P16.4-billion budget for the barangay development program of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF–ELCAC) for villages declared free of New People’s Army (NPA) rebels was released to recipient local government units (LGUs) as of Wednesday.

Interior Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya, NTF-ELCAC spokesman on the program, said the amount would be used for 1,750 projects in 617 barangays.

“It only shows how efficiently these funds are being handled directly by the LGUs. Only last week, we reported a 65 percent budget approval... with updates we got from Regions 4A and 11, we now stand at 75 percent,” Malaya said.

He said the funds are released directly to recipient LGUs upon completion of the required documents.

Of the 822 insurgency-cleared barangays, 782 were endorsed for fund release by their regional ELCAC task force.

Malaya assured the public of transparency in the implementation of barangay development projects. He said updates could be monitored through the NTF-ELCAC website.

Under the program, each barangay will receive P20 million worth of projects, broken down into P12 million for concrete farm-to-market roads, P3 million for school buildings, P2 million for water and sanitation, P1.5 million for health stations and P1.5 million for livelihood assistance.

Negros Occidental Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson said the budget department released P500 million for infrastructure projects in 25 barangays in the province which were declared NPA-free.

Fourteen of the barangays are in Escalante City, five in San Carlos City, two in Victorias City and one each in EB Magalona, Himamaylan City, Manapla and Cadiz City.

Rebel returnees

Meanwhile, five NPA guerrillas operating in Misamis Occidental and Zamboanga del Norte surrendered and turned over their firearms on Wednesday, Brig. Gen. Leonel Nicolas of the 102nd Infantry Brigade said.

Nicolas said six other communist insurgents led by an amazon surrendered to the 53rd Infantry Battalion in Dumingag, Zamboanga del Norte.

Nine members of the NPA’s Southern Tagalog Regional Party Committee surrendered in Mindoro.

As this developed, in Tarlac, 19 rebel returnees received cash assistance from the Department of the Interior and Local Government under the Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program or E-CLIP.

Former regular NPA members received P65,000 each while former Militia ng Bayan members got P15,000 each. – Artemio Dumlao, Gilbert Bayoran, Ed Amoroso, Roel Pareño, Ric Sapnu

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