MANILA - The country's national security adviser on Wednesday maintained that the Barangay Development Program (BDP) of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) has nothing to do with politics and is only aimed at providing support to communities freed from the influence of the communist movement.
"Walang politika to, it's all about ending the local communist armed conflict and I hope isa na si Vice President (Leni) Robredo, naliwanagan siya (sa) project na ito kaya susuportahan nya ang NTF-ELCAC and I also heard that Senator (Panfilo) Lacson will also support us once we come up with some more reports and probably some modifications dun sa implementation (There is nothing political about the BDP, it is all about ending the local communist armed conflict and I hope that Vice President Robredo, who was briefed about NTF-ELCAC and expressed support to it. And I also heard that Senator Lacson will support us once we come up with some reports and modifications on its implementations)," Secretary Hermogenes Esperon Jr., who is also NTF-ELCAC vice chair, said in a Laging Handa briefing.
Esperon was referring to the November 26 security briefing by the military with Robredo, where she assured her support for the mandate and functions of the NTF-ELCAC.
"I want to address the elephant in the room kasi (because) I've been quoted so many times already that I'm for the abolition of NTF-ELCAC. And I want to emphasize today that I am all for the mandate and the functions of ELCAC," the Vice President said.
Esperon also said that it would be better for the senators to talk with the governors and the mayors, who are the implementers of the BDP projects for their constituents, in order to get a firmer grasp of the program.
"At ako ay nagtitiwala sa mga governors and mayors na gagawin nila ito dahil para sa kanilang constituents ito, itong mga projects na ito, at alam nila na pag hindi nagawa ito ay hindi mawawala yung mga issue na talagang laging ginagawa ng NPA (New People's Army) na dahilan upang maka-recruit pa sila ng mga tao sa mga kanayunan (I have faith that our governors and mayors will go about completing their BDP projects as it is for the benefit of their constituents, and they know that if these projects are now started and completed, the NPA will not run out of issues in recruiting people in the countryside)," he added.
Esperon also said the communist insurgency will not be defeated if only military solutions are used, adding that socio-economic and political tools must also be utilized.
He added that the whole-nation approach is being used by the NTF-ELCAC in its implementation of the BDP.
"Hindi ito pork barrel, hindi ito politika (This is not pork barrel, nor it is about politics)," Esperon said.
Senators earlier cut the NTF-ELCAC's budget for the BDP from PHP28.12 billion to PHP4 billion for 2022.
Senator Sonny Angara, Senate Finance Committee chair, said they took the bulk of the NTF-ELCAC's budget and realigned it to fund pandemic response programs.
The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) - NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines. (PNA)