BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN
Seven insurgency-cleared barangays in Escalante City, Negros Occidental got brand-new, heavy-duty farm tractors, through Support to Barangay Development Program (SBDP) of the National Task Force in Ending Local Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).
Brig. Gen. Inocencio Pasaporte, 303rd Infantry Brigade commander, disclosed that SBDP beneficiaries in barangays of Paitan and Dian-ay received two farm tractors each, and one each for barangays of Mabini, Libertad, Pinapugasan, Udtungan and Washington, all in Escalante City.
As stipulated in the NTF-ELCAC program, each insurgency-cleared barangay is entitled to receive P20 million assistance, in terms farm-to-market roads, health centers, electrification, water and sanitation facilities, schools, and livelihood projects, under SBDP.
There are 14 barangays in Escalante City declared as insurgency-free by the Philippine Army.
Mayor Melecio Yap, who expressed his gratitude and excitement for the launching and implementation of the SBDP in Escalante City, lauded the Philippine Army and PNP for doing their share in clearing those barangays.
Yap also commits to pursue the NTF-ELCAC projects, no matter what.
Pasaporte said that turnover of seven farm tractors in Escalante City on October 11 marked the roll-out of the Barangay Development Program (BDP) projects in the villages of Negros Occidental cleared of the NPA influence.
“We are here to promote peace and order and support the BDP to capacitate the geographically-displaced and isolated areas and eradicate the insurgency of rebels in Negros Island,” he added.
Lt. Col. J-jay Javines, commanding officer of 79th Infantry Battalion, welcomed the BDP as a response of the government to address the exploitation of the affected barangays by the CPP-NPA.
Association of Barangay Captains president Richardy Pios Sr., who hails from Barangay Paitan, said the provision of farm tractors would help farmers increase production and earn additional income.
“We are thankful to the NTF-ELCAC headed by our President Rodrigo Duterte. We are very happy that insurgency is gradually solved so that we can finally achieve lasting peace and development in our barangay,” he added.*with report from PNA