Amid Church groups and peace stakeholders appreciation for Senate budget slash of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), Sorsogon Governor Chiz Escudero lamented that at least 150 barangays in the province will be affected by the substantial reduction in the proposed 2022 spending plan.
In an online interview, the former Senator pointed out that the anti-insurgency task force’s allotment for its Barangay Development Program (BDP) this year has benefitted some 16 barangays in Sorsogon, with 157 rural development projects that included road networks, daycare centers, electrification, and potable water system.
“Labing-anim na barangay ang nabigyan ng benepisyo ng NTF-ELCAC sa kanilang Barangay Development Program. Sa kabuuan, ang natanggap ng mga barangay na ito ay kulang-kulang P400 milyon na bottom-up budgeting ang ginamit. Ibig sabihin hindi ako namili ng projects. Ang namili ng mga proyekto ay ang mga barangay residents mismo at pinapatupad na siya ngayon,” he said.
The Senate Committee on Finance, however, slashed the budget of the anti-insurgency task force by P20 billion to P4 billion, or about 16 percent of the original proposal of P28.1 billion, and decided to appropriate the money to the funds of the health workers’s COVID-19 benefits for 2022.
Commenting on the budget cut, Escudero said it will be “unfortunate” if the BDP’s allocation will be affected as the NTF-ELCAC included 150 Sorsogon barangays for next year’s development projects.
Escudero was also in the Senate Committee on Finance during his term as senator.
“Ang Sorsogon ay binubuo ng 541 barangays. Yung unang nakabenepisyo sa BRP ay 16 lamang na barangay. Ayon sa NTF-ELCAC, ‘yung kanilang BDP sana next year ay may 150 yung kanilang pinanukala na magbenepisyo na more or less ay P20 million per barangay sa 2022,” the veteran legislator pointed out.
“So, kaya ko lang sabihin sa amin sa Sorsogon, maganda ang programa ng barangay development program at malaki ang tulong talaga sa mga barangay. Next year, kung hindi tinapyasan ang pondo, ang benepisyaryo sana sa lalawigan ng Sorsogon ay 150 barangays. Pag tinapyas ‘yan, tatapyasin din yung bilang ng mga barangay na magbebenepisyo,” he added.
The Senate plenary deliberations on the P5.024 trillion budget for next year started on Wednesday, November 10.
Escudero, however, said that should the proposed P24-billion cut in the BRP push through, President Duterte can still realign the budget.
“Sa ilalim ng Konstitusyon, may kapangyarihan ang presidente mag-realign basta may piso yung item na ‘yon. Pwede ‘yan i-augment, pwede ‘yan i-realign ng sinumang pangulo,” he said.