Secretary of the Department of National Defense, Sec. Delfin Lorenzana said that the government has enough funds to help the three provinces of Samar carry out the road projects, which are seen as key to end decades of communist rebellion on the island.
“The Department of National Defense and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) will have a convergence to ensure that road projects in the conflict-stricken areas of Samar will be completed within the term of President Rodrigo Duterte,” Lorenzana told reporters after the second-quarter Eastern Visayas Regional Peace and Order Council (RPOC), which was held in the upland village of Villaconzoilo here.
The P12-Billion commitment of the Duterte administration in the island of Samar include the deployment of engineering battalions to project sites and securing the heavy equipment of DPWH contractors.
During the past few years, burning of construction equipment is considered as one of the successful strategy of some rebels to delay or stop governments projects, DND Secretary Delfin Lorenzana stated.
Samar Governor Sharee Ann Tan, the RPOC chairperson, said the defense chief re-echoed the President’s promise to prioritize road projects in Samar Island.
“We submitted the proposal to President Duterte and he instructed the DBM (Department of Budget and Management) to fund the projects, but it was not included in 2018. We submitted the proposal late last year due to lengthy validation process. We are very optimistic that this will be funded in 2019,” Tan said.
Under the proposal, the budget will not only focus on funding infrastructure projects, but also livelihood support to make the program more integrated.
Among the priority areas are Silvino Lobos and Las Navas in Northern Samar; Maslog in Eastern Samar; San Jose de Buan, Hinabangan, Calbiga, Matuguinao, and Pinabacdao in Samar.
There are 404 active NPA members in Eastern Visayas equipped with 576 firearms in four provinces, the military said.