The closing of Bicol Region’s seventh phase of Poder Y Prosperidad de la Comunidad (Empowerment and Development of Communities), more widely known as PODER, was held last March 20, 2013 at the La Roca Veranda Suites and Restaurant, Gogon, Legazpi City.

PODER is the result of the partnership between the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the Agencia Española Cooperacion Internacional para El Desarrollo (AECID). It makes use of the community-driven development (CDD) approach employed by Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (Kalahi-CIDSS), one of the three core programs of the DSWD.

With a total grant of PhP 18.8 million, PODER funded the priority needs of the communities in the municipalities of Juban, Sorsogon and San Pascual, Masbate. The seventh phase of PODER produced 25 basic community facilities and services to Juban and San Pascual in the Bicol region. It previously covered Manito, Manlinao, Legazpi, Bacacay, Sto. Domingo, Tabaco, Tiwi, Malilipot, Libon, Aroroy, Claveria, Minalabac, Presentacion, Paracale and Sta. Elena, municipalities also in Region V. Most of these municipalities have previously implemented Kalahi-CIDSS.

PODER started implementation in 2005. It funded 231 sub-projects in Region V throughout the course of its implementation. It also aided Bicol in the aftermath of Super Typhoon Reming in 2006 under its rehabilitation project.

Mercedes Cornejo, the Program Manager for Social Development of AECID Philippines, said, “This is not the end. This is only the beginning [for us] to work even harder in sustaining these community subprojects.” She, along with the PODER and Kalahi-CIDSS National Project Manager Edgar G. Pato and Region V Assistant Regional Director Felix M. Armeña, took part in the closing activities.