MANILA - Sen. Nancy Binay on Monday questioned why several barangays in highly-urbanized cities were included in the list of recipients of the anti-insurgency fund, which is intended to spur development in rural villages to discourage residents from joining the communist movement.
Of the 822 barangays "cleared" of communist rebels and deemed eligibile to receive P20-million worth of projects from the national government, 130 barangays are from 30 cities, while 80 others are from 3 highly-urbanized cities, Binay said during the budget deliberations in the Senate.
"Alam na alam naman natin na sa highly-urbanized cities, 'yung problema ng insurgency diyan very minimal," she said.
(We know that in highly-urbanized cities, the problem of insurgency is very minimal.)
"Hindi ba mas mainam na unahin muna natin 'yung mga 4th and 5th class municipalities?" she said.
(Would it not be better if we prioritize the 4th and 5th class municipalities?)
Under the law, 4th class municipalities are towns with P3-5 million annual average revenue, while 5th class municipalities are those with P1-3 million annual average revenue.
Under the the proposed anti-insurgency program, the P20 million allotment for each "cleared" barangay may be used for the following projects:
- P12 million for road concreting
- P3 million for school buildings
- P2 million for water sanitation
- P1.5 million for greening
- P1.5 million for health stations
Portions of the fund may also be used for electrification, and other services under the Department of Agriculture, Department of Information and Communications Technology, and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, Senate Committee of Finance chair Sonny Angara said.
But Binay noted that Barangay Banago, a seaside port village in Bacolod City, which is among the fund recipients, may not need to implement a greening program.
"I don't think na dun sa menu na paggagamitan ng P20 million ay kakailanganin pa ng Barangay Banago 'yung greening program," she said.
(I don't think Barangay Banago needs the fund for the greening program.)
"Wala naman forest doon na tataniman nila dahil port area nga e," she said.
(There is no forest there because it's a port area.)
Angara said the disbursement of the P20 million fund for each barangay is "not automatic."
"If the barangay chooses not to avail of it (fund for a program) or if it is not applicable, then the funds will not be spent and will be kept in the treasury," he said.
Binay urged the executive branch to sift through the list again, saying the government can save about P1 billion should it exclude barangays in highly-urbanized cities from receiving the anti-insurgency fund.
"May mga instances na parang hindi tugma sa layunin ng programa," she said.
(There are instances when it is not aligned with the objectives of the program.)
The funding for the construction of schools and the greening program in "cleared" barangays should also be placed under the Department of Education and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, respectively "to avoid duplication and for easier monitoring," she said.
Angara committed to "relay" Binay's concern to the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) secretariat.
The Senate minority bloc earlier urged the chamber to realign the proposed P19-billion budget of the NTF-ELCAC for next year to COVID-19 response programs or to aid for typhoon victims.