AFP's P220-M “Kalayaan sa Barangay Program” due in Surigao del Sur

September 5, 2009 11:18 pm 

BUTUAN CITY, Sept. 6 – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is implementing a Php220-million “Kalayaan sa Barangay Program” KBP) in Surigao del Sur province.

It was learned the funding is intended to 44 barangays in the province, particularly those in far-flung areas.

Despite of some hindrances, the AFP, through its unit, the Army’s 401st Infantry (Unite n’ Fight) Brigade, remains steadfast in their efforts to improve the delivery of services to the 44 barangays with Php5-million allocation per barangay, it was gathered.

“Our troops in that province are not for combat but as implementers of government projects to usher in peace and development in insurgency-prone areas,” said regional Army spokesman, Maj. Mitchele B. Anayron, Jr.

He said the area command chief of the Northeastern and Northern Mindanao Fourth Infantry (Diamond) Division ordered 401st Brigade commander Col. Danny Fabian to step up their peace and development projects in Surigao del Sur province.

On the other hand, the “Diamond” chief also directed the Brigade commander to secure the safety of the civilian populace, particularly those in remotest areas from harassment and extortion activities of the communist-New People’s Army (NPA) and other lawless group, Maj. Anayron said.

The implementation of KBP projects were only halted last month following on alleged mass evacuation of indigenous people (IP’s).

However, the more than 1,400 IP’s have already returned to their respective homes and farmlands after the government security forces cleared the 15 IP communities in Lianga town of that same province, Army spokesman said.

The Engineering Unit of the 401st Brigade already started their surveys for the KBP to six barangays for the implementation of P30 million worth of program interventions like improvements of road networks, establishment of farm-to-market roads, electrification, water supply facility, and livelihood projects.

“If the people in these areas will cooperate and let the military accomplish the KBP, the convergence project can follow through where other government agencies can extend more developmental programs for poverty alleviation,” Col. Fabian explained the importance the AFP as an avenue to attain sustainable peace.

The people in the 44 barangays in Liangga, Diatagon and Carasscal, all in Surigao del Sur, will be deprived of the government’s developmental project if cessation of hostilities will not be achieved and by the end of December 2009 the P220 million fund allocation will be reverted back to the Office of the Department of Defense, it was gathered.

However, Lt. Col. Benjamin Pedralvez, commanding officer of the 58th IB operating in Surigao del Sur, said their troops are committed to put an end to the decades-old problem of communist insurgency carrying out the government’s goal to rehabilitate and develop conflict-affected areas as contained in the National Peace Plan (NPP).

Specifically, it seeks to empower the target barangays to be able to build and sustain peace and development, restore and strengthen formal governance institutions and maintain peace and security in the area, he added.

Currently, the KBP covers 600 conflict-affected barangays in 12 regions in the country, it was gathered.

Of the total areas covered, 500 barangays were identified by the Department of National Defense (DND) through the AFP as priority communist insurgency areas. These barangays are either infiltrated or influenced areas of the CPP-NPA-NDF, it was further gathered. (PNA)

LDV/MUC/jsd

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