Two governors from the Southern Philippines and a mayor from Mountain Province in Northern Luzon, together with a former rebel warned that they will see to it that Senators and other politicians who moved to cut the budget for the Barangay Development Program (BDP) and the National Task Force to End Local Armed Conflict (ELCAC) will get “Zero Vote” and also will be declared “persona non grata” in their LGUS.
They warned that Senators Joel Villanueva, Risa Hontiveros, Sherwin “Win” Gatchalian, Nancy Binay, Franklin Drilon and Grace Poe will face such consequences for motioning to slash the budget for the BDP. “We see this (BDP) as a kind of reward. After liberating our communities of insurgents since 1986, this (BDP) is a big thing,” Sadanga, Mountain Province mayor Gabino Ganggangan said. He is referring to the fund received by barangays in his municipality in the amount of P20 million each from the task force’s BDP which can be used for basic necessities of their communities such as farm-to-market roads.
Ganggangan pointed out that the funds from the BDP are much higher than the 20 percent Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) of about P18 million given annually by the national government to his 3rd class municipality. The mayor warned that he will spearhead a traditional Ifugao ritual that will put a curse on lawmakers so that they will lose in next year’s elections.
Ifugao is a neighboring province of Mountain Province inhabited by Tuwalis, Ayangan and orher erhnolingusitic groups of Ifugao people. Ganggangan meanwhile is from the Sadanga tribe of Mountain Province.
According to National Security Adviser (NSA) and NTF-ELCAC Vice Chairman, Secretary Hermogenes Esperon, Ganggangan is a known anti-communist fighter in the Mt. Province who has protected Indigenous People (IPs) from exploitation by the Communist Party of the Philippines, New People’s Army, National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF). Esperon also expressed his dismay on the budget cut, while questioning the lawmakers’ motives behind the move.
North Cotabato Governor Nancy Catamco on the other hand, said 36 of the 57 barangays located in far-flung places in her province were already cited by the NTF-ELCAC to receive the P20 million fund from BDP. “Fifteen (15) barangays out the off the 37, have already witnessed groundbreaking rites. At patuloy pa. Marami ang nageexpect na matuloy ang development. Imagine, kung makakapag-reklamo lang ang kanilang mga kabayo, magreraklamo na ang mga ito dahil sa sama ng kalagayan ng mga kalsada,” Catamco said.
For Governor Tyron Uy of Davao de Oro, lawmakers should also summon them at the budget hearings so that they can attest to the gains brought about by the BDP in their province, explaining that they, too, headed the local and regional ELCAC. “Summon us, for us to explain kung ano ang ginagawa namin sa local task force. Majority of the projects are on-going,” Uy said.
Joy James Saguino, alias “Ka Amihan”, former secretary of Guerilla Front 20 under Sub-Regional Committee 1 of the NPA, said the “collective voice” and “united stand” of 857 people’s organizations, including those of former rebels, have come up with a statement indicating their disapproval in the “strongest term” to some lawmakers’ move of defunding the task force. “Malungkot kami. Babalik tayo sa dati.
NTF-ELCAC has accordingly been effective in addressing the root cause of communist insurgency at the grass root level. It paved the way for development and social services. BDP assured the sustainment of development.