By Xai Reyes
MANILA — The P20 million reward for more than 800 Barangays in the country cleared of New People’s Army (NPA) presence is not an election patronage fund nor will it be given in cash.
So said National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) spokesman Lt. Gen. Antonio Parlade on Saturday as he clarified the issue.
In a radio interview, the Duterte administration anti-insurgency Task Force spokesman said, the reward will be released at the provincial level.
“Hindi po ito cash. Hindi military ang mag-i-implement. Ang release nito is provincial level. Ang mag-i-implement nyan ay provincial government,” Parlade explained.
He said there are 822 barangays nationwide which have been cleared of the presence of local terrorists and are considered ready to start a normal life.
On Friday, President Rodrigo Duterte started the distribution of P20 million worth of projects in Cagayan de Oro City.
“‘Yung mga issues nila tulad ng mga patubig, farm-to-market roads ito ‘yung ina-address nitong P20 million each barangay,” Parlade said.
“Initially 822 ang nakayanan ng budget pero 1,600 barangays ang ni-request ng NTF-ELCAC na mapondohan. Kalahati lang muna… Karamihan sa mga barangay ay napag-iwanan at nasa liblib na lugar,” he said.
For his part, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon said aside from farm-to-market roads, the P20 million may be used for classrooms, electricity, health station, water system, and irrigation.
The NPA, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, has been consistently tagged by Duterte as a terrorist organization.
As of this time, the government’s petition to declare the communists as terrorists is still pending before the Manila Regional Trial Court.
The NTF-ELCAC’s mandate is to fight communism through “prioritizing and harmonizing the delivery of basic services and social development packages by the government.” (AI/MTVN)