TACLOBAN CITY — Eastern Visayas officials have reiterated their call to the national government to give more attention to 37 areas in Leyte and Samar provinces affected by conflicts.
Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Regional Director Marivel Sacendoncillo said agencies need to check if they are making these areas with an insurgency problem a priority in the implementation of development projects.
“If we expect change, there should be appropriate interventions. We should look at our programs and see if we prioritize the delivery of services to conflict areas,” Sacendoncillo said in an interview Thursday.
The DILG regional chief proposed the setting up of a monitoring system to find out what the local government and national government are doing for the development of conflict-stricken areas.
In its latest report, the Philippine Army disclosed that three cities and 24 towns in the region have confirmed activities of the New People’s Army (NPA).
There are 404 active NPA members equipped with 576 firearms in the region’s four provinces, according to the military.
Department of Budget and Management Regional Director Imelda Laceras has asked the Philippine Army to regularly provide insurgency situation updates to the Regional Development Council and agencies tasked to deliver basic services.
“This is to guide concerned agencies to go where they are supposed to go. Conflict-affected areas should be a top priority. I don’t think it is highly considered now,” Laceras said. “We need to give the same level of support to these areas for budgetary allocation in 2019 otherwise these areas will remain as what they are now.”
Sacendoncillo has called for a review of sites of anti-poverty projects, such as farm-to-market roads and rural health centers, if these are being placed in areas with insurgency threats.
“Make sure that projects are in sites where they are needed most. If we will overlay the programs into the map of security agencies, we can see if the project matches the needs,” she added.
The military has raised major issues why insurgency thrives in some areas even after decades of gun battle. These are poverty, land distribution, poor road networks, no electricity, no clean water, lack of access to education, absence of health and other government services, no economic opportunities, and political dynasties. (SARWELL Q. MENIANO/PNA)