The MIMAROPA Regional Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (RTF ELCAC) reviewed and endorsed the priority programs, projects, and activities (PPAs) for the identified cleared barangays proposed by the provinces of Occidental Mindoro, Oriental Mindoro, and Palawan under the FY 2021 Local Government Support Fund-Support to the Barangay Development Program (LGSF-SBDP). This was held during the RTF’s virtual cluster meeting last March 02.

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Gov. Humerlito A. Dolor of Oriental Mindoro and representatives from the provinces of Occidental Mindoro and Palawan presented the list of priority PPAs for the identified barangays in their respective provinces.

A total of 25 barangays in MIMAROPA was included in the list of identified cleared barangays under the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Local Budget Circular (LBC) No. 135, s. 2021: nine barangays in Occidental Mindoro; eight barangays in Oriental Mindoro; and eight barangays in Palawan. The implementation of priority PPAs for the cleared barangays aims to address the existing governance and development gaps while ensuring peace and prosperity are being promoted and sustained.

Each cleared barangay shall receive an amount not exceeding ₱20M to be used for the following projects: a) farm-to-market roads; b) school buildings; c) water and sanitation system; d) health stations; e) rural electrification; f) reconstruction, rehabilitation, repair, and other similar projects in connection with the occurrence of natural or human-induced calamities, epidemics, crises resulting from armed conflicts, insurgency, terrorism, and other catastrophes; g) housing; h) COVID-19 vaccination; immunization and other health related projects; i) agricultural, livelihood and technical vocational trainings/ projects; and j) assistance to indigent individual or families.

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Department of Energy (DOE) Undersecretary Alexander S. Lopez represented MIMAROPA Cabinet Officer for Regional Development and Security and DOE Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi. Usec. Lopez presided over the meeting, which was participated in by PTF Chairperson and Oriental Mindoro Governor Humerlito A. Dolor, SOLCOM Deputy Commander Col. Armand Arevalo PA, 203rd Infantry Division Commander Col. Jose Augusto V. Villareal, PNP MIMAROPA PBGen. Pascual G. Munoz, Jr., DILG MIMAROPA Regional Director Wilhelm M. Suyko, CESO IV, RTF ELCAC Secretariat and NEDA Regional Director Susan A. Sumbeling, NICA 4 Regional Director Rufino C. Mendoza, TESDA MIMAROPA Regional Director Manuel B. Wong, DPWH MIMAROPA Regional Director Yolanda L. Tangco, PIA MIMAROPA Regional Director Jose Reuben Q. Alagaran II, and representatives of the NTF ELCAC and RTF ELCAC Clusters.

Usec. Lopez read Secretary Cusi’s message emphasizing on four broad concepts: a) change is the new constant; b) uncertainty is the new normal; c) learners are the new experts; and d) flexibility is the new strong. He said that a deliberate conscious effort to make sense of what is going on and what can be done is needed to achieve the 2030 sustainable development goals and RTF ELCAC objectives. He hoped that the DBM LBC No. 135 will support the attainment of RTF ELCAC objectives, instead of limiting what can be achieved.

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Meanwhile, the RTF clusters were briefed on the salient features of DBM LBC No. 135, s. 2021 or the Guidelines on the Release and Utilization of the LGSF-SBDP of the NTF ELCAC in the FY 2021 General Appropriation Act or Republic Act No. 11518. The DBM LBC No. 135 provides policies and procedures including the responsibilities of the RTF ELCAC in the implementation of the program. The LGSF-SBDP shall be used to fund the priority projects identified under Retooled Community Support Program (RCSP).

The request for inclusion of Brgy. Sta. Maria in Abra de Ilog, Occidental Mindoro to the NTF ELCAC list of priority barangays and the request for replacement of target priority barangays under RCSP for FY 2021 were also discussed during the meeting.

Some of the agreements and recommendations were: a) additional proposals of identified cleared barangay including documentary requirements shall be submitted to NEDA MIMAROPA, as the MIMAROPA RTF ELCAC Secretariat for review; b) proposals shall be determined based on the menu of projects and focused on the cleared barangays specified in the LBC No. 135; and c) practice of Oriental Mindoro regarding the process of project identification and prioritization may be adopted by other provinces.

In closing, Usec. Lopez encouraged all clusters to maximize the spending of funds under FY 2021 LGSF-SBDP allocated by the Congress. He also said that updates on the release and utilization of the said funds will be discussed in the next MIMAROPA RTF ELCAC meetings.