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IMPROVING GOVERNANCE AND COMMUNITY PARTICIPATION A MUST FOR DEVELOPMENT — DSWD

The provincial local government unit (PLGU) of Compostela Valley has recently signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) for the pilot testing of the enhancement of Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (Kalahi-CIDSS) engagement at the provincial level.

First row (L-R): Congresswoman Maria Carmen Zamora, Kalahi-CIDSS National Project Manager Edgar Pato, ComVal Governor Arturo Uy, and DILG Undersecretary Francisco Fernandez sign the Memorandum of Agreement with DSWD, DILG, and PLGU staff providing assistance

First row (L-R): Congresswoman Maria Carmen Zamora, Kalahi-CIDSS National Project Manager Edgar Pato, ComVal Governor Arturo Uy, and DILG Undersecretary Francisco Fernandez sign the Memorandum of Agreement with DSWD, DILG, and PLGU staff providing assistance

Compostela Valley Governor Arturo T. Uy signed the MOA with Director and Kalahi-CIDSS National Project Manager Edgar G. Pato, who represented DSWD Secretary Corazon “Dinky” Juliano-Soliman, and DILG Undersecretary Francisco Fernandez, who represented DILG Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas.

According to Director Pato, Compostela Valley was chosen as one of the three pilot sites because of the PLGU’s active participation in the implementation of Kalahi-CIDSS, by way of its provision of PhP 4.29 M as part of the implementing areas’ required local counterpart contribution (LCC) since 2011.

The PLGU also developed the Assistance Towards Unity for Progress thru Empowerment, Accountability, Cooperation, and Efficiency (ATU-PEACE) initiative, which was patterned after Kalahi-CIDSS and also uses the community-driven development (CDD) as a strategy in poverty alleviation.

CDD is a poverty alleviation strategy which gives citizens the power and the responsibility to analyze and address local issues that impede their development through participatory decision-making. It is the principal strategy of Kalahi-CIDSS, one of the three core programs under the DSWD, alongside the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (Pantawid) and the Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP). 

“Here truly lies the heart of community empowerment: communities are part of the project every step of the way,” said Director Pato, describing the strategy of Kalahi-CIDSS. “We are helping communities help themselves move toward development.”

Director Pato also discussed the National Community Driven-Development Program (NCDDP), the scaling up of Kalahi-CIDSS into a nationwide strategy for poverty alleviation.  Saying that that the NCDDP will be three times the coverage of Kalahi-CIDSS, he added that it is geared toward development at both the local and national levels. However, he cautioned that there will also need to be a tighter relationship between the DSWD and the LGUs in order to effectively implement the program. “The successful execution of NCDDP calls for an increased focus on governance,” he said.

This was supported by Undersecretary Fernandez, who said the National Government pays close attention to its poverty-alleviation programs, and how there is a need for better collaboration between the different national government agencies and the LGUs. He narrated a discussion with President Benigno Aquino III where they discussed how they can make the economic growth of the Philippines inclusive to everyone. “Dapat walang iwanan [No one should be left behind],” he said. “Pobre man ngayon, pero dapat hindi mamamatay na pobre [Poor people need not die still poor].”

 For his part, Governor Uy is thankful for the inclusion of Compostela Valley as one of the chosen sites for the engagement. “Compostela Valley is honored and fortunate as one of the three provinces chosen to be the pilot areas,” he said.

Governor Uy also praised the CDD strategy of Kalahi-CIDSS, saying that the Project’s focus on improving governance was actually one of the reasons why he adopted the system in ATU-PEACE. Describing his early years in government as an “eye opener”, he narrated how he saw for himself how difficult it was for the communities to not be consulted on what projects will be implemented in their areas.

This was echoed by Compostela Valley First District Representative Maria Carmen Zamora, who said that in the past, they have experienced “frustrated MPDCs and MGOCs”.

The arrival of Kalahi-CIDSS in Compostela Valley provided the vehicle for Governor Uy to initiate change in the province. “I saw the importance of participation in governance”, he said. This was also supported by Congresswoman Zamora, who said, “I know and I take pride in saying that we pay attention to the Barangay Development Plans”. She described the PLGU engagement as “sunshine after the rain”, especially with the previous experience of Compostela Valley during Typhoon Pablo last December.

The pilot study, according to Governor Uy, will help in the development of transparency, unity, and good governance. He reiterated the importance of working together with various agencies such as the DSWD and the DILG to push for development. “With constant partnership, better lives with Compostelaños will not be too far ahead.”