Rody to visit Region 8, talk to poor

President Rodrigo Duterte is scheduled to visit today (March 18) Region 8, one of the poorest regions in the country, for the second leg of nationwide meetings with the local chief executives and to lead the implementation of Barangay Development Program in the Visayas.

Duterte, also the chairman of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), will grace the implementation of the BDP where barangays cleared of New People’s Army (NPA) threat and influence will be getting P20 million each that can be used for several projects.

A total 200 barangays in Region 8 are expected from the NTF-ELCAC’s flagship program this 2021. For this year, about P16.4 billion was allocated by the Duterte administration for the 822 barangays under the BDP, NTF-ELCAC said.

In a statement made available to Congress reporters, National Security Adviser and NTF-ELCAC vice chairman Hermogenes Esperon said the President would be visiting Region 8 to emphasize the government’s longstanding commitment to bring justice to the families of those killed by communist rebels during the Inopacan massacre and internal purging in Leyte.

“Region 8 has historically been one of the poorest regions in the Philippines. One of the major contributory factors to this is the destructive and counterproductive presence of the NPA,” Esperon said.

Citing data from the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), Esperon said that the poverty incidence in Region 8 was at 42.6 percent.

“This alarming double-digit poverty incidence is indicative of the dire economic situation experience in Region 8, especially in Samar. This historical data set illustrates the gravity of the situation in the region, particularly the World Bank estimates the national poverty rate in the Philippines to be at 19.8 percent in 2020,” Esperon said.

The official added that taking into consideration of the deplorable poverty rate, it is ideally suitable for the Region 8 to be recipient of the NTF-ELCAC’s development programs through BDP and other projects.

Esperon also said that BDP envisioned the insurgency-free communities through influx of social-economic development programs.

The P20 million will be earmarked to farm-to-market road (P12 million); school buildings (P3 million); water and sanitation systems (P2million); electrification (P1.5 million) and health sanitation (P1.5 million).

These programs are aimed at addressing issues that the CPP-NPA utilize in their propaganda and recruitment, such as poverty, isolation, disease, hunger and lack of educational and livelihood opportunities.

For Region 8, even the non-BDP beneficiaries will be receiving assistance from President Duterte. Among these are assistance to rebel returnees in the form of housing; redistribution of at least 2,334 hectares of agricultural land from the Department of Agrarian Reform; scholarship grants from Commission on Higher Education and TESDA; livelihood projects from Department of Social Welfare and Development; and emergency employment from the Department of Labor and Employment.

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