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Gov Edgar Chatto's Prosperity Teams Created for Bohol's Development

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by Bohol Standard

Amid perceptions of “political motives” behind the deployment of Prosperity Teams (Pro-Teams) in some twenty-three towns, top officials of the police, army and the provincial government yesterday defended the peace and development program initiated by Governor Edgar Chatto.

Col. John Bonafos, commander of the Philippine Army’s 802nd Brigade; SSupt. Constantino Barot Jr., PNP provincial director; and Provincial Administrator Alfonso Damalerio II all said that they see no political dimension in the deployment of Pro-Teams in 55 barangays in 23 municipalities.

“The decision to put up Pro-Teams in selected barangays is not based on political considerations, but was a result of studies made by a technical working group composed of different provincial government agencies, the PNP and Army,” Damalerio explained over a radio interview.

“Pro-Teams are mainly conducting peace and development operations which helps particular communities, from the purok level through the implementation of the Purok Power Movement (PPM), and sustain Bohol as an insurgency-free province by also putting in place tools for livelihood and other basic services,” said Bonafos in a separate interview.

Earlier, Carmen Mayor Conchita Delos Reyes ordered Pro-Teams assigned in barangays Montesuerte and Villa Arcayo in her municipality to cease their activities and conduct their program instead in other towns which the lady mayor considers less progressive – such as Balilihan – the hometown of Gov. Chatto.

Delos Reyes, who is eyeing a gubernatorial bid in next year’s mid-term election against Chatto, apparently views the presence of Pro-Teams in Carmen as a political ploy of the incumbent governor.

Catigbian Mayor Roberto Salinas shares a similar view saying the Capitol-initiated program is a waste of government funds since it just duplicates existing programs in their barangays.

However, Damalerio explains the Pro-Teams’ monitoring group have not received such adverse comments from the other 21 municipal mayors where they are implementing the program.

“Except for the Carmen and Catigbian mayors, there are no negative feedbacks or complaints so far from the other mayors, but just the same, we will continue to monitor and evaluate the implementation of the program,” Damalerio added.

He said the two mayors may have misinterpreted the genuine intent of the program which operates through the recommendations of the PNP and the Army components.

SSupt. Barot on the other hand clarified that Pro-Teams are trained to be rural development specialists and have no political orientation of sorts.

“If Mayor Delos Reyes thinks our teams in Carmen should stop the program, then we will have to respect her decision. Right now we still have to consider how to utilize the trained personnel so they may be deployed in other areas,” Barot said.

According to Damalerio, all municipal mayors were invited during the launching of the program which officially took effect in July 2011, on the occasion of the Bohol Day commemoration where the governor signed an Executive Order for the program in support of the national government’s PPM.

Since then, trainings and workshops were conducted for personnel who will compose the Pro-Teams which eventually saw its initial deployment sometime in October and November last year.

“The program has been in the pipeline even before talks of 2013 (election) surfaced,” Damalerio added.

The Pro-Teams are composed of peace and development teams (PDT) comprising military personnel, and the Community Organizing for Countryside Development (CO-CD).

The main effort is the task of the CO-CD undertaken by its 30 employees, while the Special Forces of the military field 60 personnel to undertake support effort, and 15 police non-commissioned officers (PNCOs) take charge of another layer of the support effort.

Each team is composed of two members from the CO-CD, four from the Special Forces, and one police officer.

When told of Mayor Delos Reyes’ comments that Pro-Teams assigned in Carmen should be sent to Balilihan instead, Damalerio said there are three teams in said town.

“We still believe in the intentions of this program; that it is for the good of our communities and it is important that the gains we have achieved in eradicating insurgency in the province be sustained through the Pro-Teams,” Damalerio said.

Bonafos bared that based on their intelligence reports communist legal fronts have been trying to re-establish their strongholds in areas they have previously controlled – one of which is Carmen.

“The proactive measures implemented through our Pro-Teams, with the help of our stakeholders and the local government units, can prevent the resurgence of armed groups and formerly communist-influenced areas,” Bonafos said.

Damalerio assured that Pro-Teams will continue to implement their tasks and objectives not only to maintain peace and stability but also to promote development in the barangay level.

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