What did Samarnons gain from RCSP?

In Western Samar, 11 villages of Calbiga, five in Pinabacdao, and five in Hinabangan have been under unabated Retooled Community Support Program (RCSP) since 2019. During this period, the government funneled millions of pesos of funds into these villages for several projects which remain incomplete.

To create the illusion of development alongside its counterinsurgency campaign, the government and military implement various road and bridge projects, other projects under the PAMANA program and the local government, the National Greening Program, NTF-ELCAC’s livelihood projects, surrender program of the E-CLIP and several more.

But after two years, not one of the infrastructure projects was completed. Implementation is so slow that road projects remain at the buldozing stage. A temporary bridge made of wood was constructed in place of the planned cemented road project in Barangay Guinbanga, Calbiga. Residents lament that the funds allotted for the project were already pocketed as they remain unfinished.

The AFP is using the billions of public funds allotted for the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC)’s Barangay Development Program (BDP) to further place villages under their rule. The implementation of BDP is tightly linked to the repression and abuses of the AFP against the masses. For example, barangays were told they will get ₱20 million each if officials and residents will agree to soldiers holding camp in their communities or if residents will “clear” their names or “surrender.” In some villages where nobody voluntarily surrendered, soldiers list names of chosen residents to surrender.

“Blood, death and disruption of our livelihood,” said Ka Ruben, a peasant, when asked on what RCSP operations has brought them.

Farmers in villages subjected to RCSP operations will never forget the murders of barangay chieftains in Daligan and Beri in Calbiga, the wife of Sinalangtan’s village chief, a peasant in Buluan and a youth from Minata, all perpetrated by the military. In Pinabacdao, two peasants were killed in Canlubo and another in Magdawat. Soldiers have also mauled and tortured peasants. “It’s hard for poor people like us that we can only benefit from government funds in exchange for a number of lives,” said Ka Ruben.

Soldiers of RCSP teams also promote gambling like cockfights and playing cards, illegal fishing by poisoning rivers and electrocution, illegal logging, abuse of women and impregnating minors.

Even peasants who were recruited to the CAFGU were forced to leave the service because they too are maltreated by the soldiers. The promised P35,000 salary became P6,000, which at times are paid 2-3 months later. They experience severe maltreatment, verbal abuse and disrimination.

“That’s why every time I pass by road and bridge constructions, I remember fellow peasants who were killed for these projects. No amount nor project can replace their lives.”

The promised development for peasants is a sham. “Prices of our products even plumetted and cost of transportation surged.”

“It is forever etched in my mind that only through struggle can poor people like me achieve genuine development and peace,” Ka Ruben ended.

What did Samarnons gain from RCSP?