DBM: Regional bodies decide fund release to villages ‘cleared’ of Reds
MANILA, Philippines — Funds meant for barangays that have been declared free of the leftist insurgency are to be released subject to the approval of the regional counterparts of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-Elcac), according to the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).
A total of 822 villages cleared of rebel activity during the first half of the Duterte administration, or from 2016 to 2019, will receive at least P20 million each from the P16.44-billion fund given to the task force under the 2021 national budget.
Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado on Wednesday issued Local Budget Circular No. 135, which will serve as the guidelines in releasing NTF-Elcac’s Local Government Support Fund-Support to the Barangay Development Program (LGSF-SBDP).
The recipient villages, Avisado said, can use the funds for farm-to-market roads, school buildings, water and sanitation systems, rural electrification, housing, as well as medical, burial, transportation, food, cash-for-work and educational assistance to indigent persons or households.
For pandemic, too
Amid the coronavirus pandemic, he said, these barangays may also spend their respective budget allocations to build health stations or fund initiatives related to COVID-19 vaccinations, among others.
Also included among the projects to be funded by the LGSF-SBDP were “reconstruction, rehabilitation, repair and other similar projects in connection with the occurrence of natural or human-induced calamities, epidemics, crises resulting from armed conflicts, insurgency, terrorism and other catastrophes,” the DBM chief added.
Since President Duterte’s veto message in the 2021 General Appropriations Act placed the anti-insurgency fund under “conditional implementation,” the money can only be released subject to prior approval of the Regional Task Force (RTF)-Elcac covering the 822 barangays, Avisado said.
The respective RTF-Elcac, in turn, must endorse only “eligible and compliant” fund requests to the DBM so it can immediately release the allotments.
While these would be implemented by barangays, the DBM is requiring infrastructure projects to adhere to national construction standards.
The LGSF-SBDP has a two-year validity, and unreleased funds will revert to the Bureau of Treasury by Dec. 31, 2022.
Also on Jan. 20, Avisado issued the guidelines on the release of the P4.5-billion Local Government Support Fund-Disaster Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Assistance Program through Local Budget Circular No. 134.
The funding will cover recovery and reconstruction projects in areas badly hit by the eruption of Taal Volcano in January last year as well as the string of strong typhoons—“Quinta,” “Rolly” and “Ulysses”—that battered parts of the country in the last quarter of 2020.
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