These projects include Level 2 water systems, health stations, farm-to-market roads, and other infrastructure works in the barangays in the municipalities of Alabel, Malapatan, Maasim, and Kiamba.
Solon anticipates that by December this year, the development projects, “God-willing sabay-sabay na itong mag-move sa Sarangani.”
“In Sarangani, the government is really trying to create prosperous communities so that armed conflict will not last," Solon said as he highlighted Sarangani’s strategy in attracting more rebels to return to the fold of the law.
Major General Ernesto Torres Jr., 10th Infantry Division commander, also said in the press conference “the reason why our kababayans are susceptible to the recruitment of the CPP-NPA- NDF is because they are hard up in their communities. The basic services do not reach them.”
In the Executive Order 70, the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) established the Support to Barangay Development Program (SBDP) allocating P20 million to each of the identified barangays for development projects in their respective areas.
The SBDP was created with the goal of bringing development to former conflict-ridden communities which were once communist strongholds.
Torres explained that the fund allocated for SBDP “goes directly to the improvement of the barangays that are situated in conflict-affected areas and GIDAs (Geographically Isolated and Disadvantaged Areas),” in order to provide the needed services “so that they don’t fall prey sa mga panloloko ng mga CPP-NPA.”
Solon reported that from 2013 up to the present, a total of 204 members of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) have already surrendered in the province and were enrolled in the government’s Enhanced Comprehensive Local Integration Program (E-CLIP).
The provincial government, he said, has been implementing massive access road projects to far-flung barangays as among its strategies in bringing in government services and eradicating communist ideologies in the upland communities.
“If the communities are prosperous, bakit pa sila papasok sa mga ganyang grupo na mahirap masyado, walang makakain, bilad na bilad pa sa araw, at hinahanap pa ng security forces?” Solon said.
As part of the integration program, rebels who have surrendered were given all sorts of assistance, from financial, to firearm remuneration, to livelihood assistance through the help of other government agencies as well.
One example, he said, is the Department of Public Works and Highways “allocating every month a certain number of slots for our rebel returnees para may trabaho sila. They work in the highways, they work in some construction projects, para may income sila.”
“We are trying to integrate them back to society as smoothly as possible,” he added. (Jori Mae R. Samillano/SARANGANI PROVINCIAL INFORMATION OFFICE)
Photo by Martin Fernando Bernad Jr. of MGen. Torres and Gov. Solon taken on November 17 during the Press Conference on ELCAC held at 1002nd Infantry Brigade Headquarters, Camp Agaab, Sitio Pulatana, Malandag, Malungon.