Conflicted and geographically isolated barangays that have been cleared of insurgents under the government’s anti-insurgency campaign need to be rehabilitated and rebuilt into developed rural communities to sustain government efforts to cut them off from communist influence, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said on Friday.
Sotto said this was the reason why the Senate opted to keep intact the P19 billion budget of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) for 2021.
“Kapag natanggal mo ang insurgency sa isang area, halimbawa isang barangay or isang maliit na munisipyo o sitio, hindi natatapos ang trabaho doon,” he said in a statement.
“Kailangan lagyan mo iyong lugar ng mga paaralan, bigyan mo ng pagkakakitaan ang mga residente, tulungan mong makabangon muli ang mga tao. Ganoon ang dapat gawin dahil kung hindi, masisira ulit ang tingin nila sa pamahalaan. Magiging madali na ulit na papaniwalain sila sa panloloko ng mga komunista,” Sotto said.
He also said: “We want to sustain rural development programs that the government has already started to carry out in these barangays. Sayang naman ang efforts. But these programs cannot be sustained if their funding is cut. So we have to make sure that the government has the budget to continue what it has started.”
Sotto appealed to the public in general, and to government critics in particular to give the anti-insurgency campaign a chance to succeed so people in the countryside can live normal and peaceful lives.
“Maganda po ang adhikain ng programa ng NTF-ELCAC. Bigyan po natin ito ng pagkakataon na magtagumpay nang sa ganun ay matigil na ang communist movement sa ating bansa. Let us all work closely in making the lives of our kababayans more peacceful,” he said.
The NTF-ELCAC has a P19-billion funding for its anti-insurgency activities and has picked out 1,431 barangays all over the country as recipients of the government assistance.