A P22-billion program intended to address the communist insurgency in Davao Oriental has been approved at the regional level, and the big-ticket projects will be endorsed for national funding, the provincial government announced earlier this week. “Our problem with insurgency basically stems from poverty and the absence of government services in the hinterland areas… We have to prioritize livelihood and accessibility. The sooner we address these issues, the sooner we solve the problem of insurgency,” Governor Nelson L. Dayanghirang said in a statement on Monday. Davao Oriental’s proposed projects include infrastructure development, livelihood, and training, which were identified through workshops with representatives up to the barangay level. “This proposal is a result of our needs assessment and workshops which helped us in really knowing what the priority needs of the barangays really are,” Mr. Dayanghirang said. Budget Secretary Wendel E. Avisado, the designated Cabinet officer for Regional Development and Security (CORDS) for Davao, said the projects that can already be funded by national agencies and the local government may be rolled out immediately while the big-ticket items are awaiting assessment and approval. Davao Oriental province has received recognition for its programs to encourage members of the New People’s Army, the armed groups of the Communist Party of the Philippines, to lay down their arms. These programs were initiated before President Rodrigo R. Duterte issued a directive in December 2018 establishing the “whole-of-nation approach” to end the communist armed conflict. Under this policy, local governments will lead multi-agency bodies that will plan and implement localized anti-insurgency projects.