Thursday, December 26, 2013

Of New Year, Praying and Planning

Creating a new year’s resolution is great especially if we are resolving a certain problem whether personal or related to the community where we belong. Needless to say, if we don’t have any plan, it may be doomed before it ever gets started. Well, majority of individuals who make a new year’s resolution end up breaking it. We must not expect the same for our community planning.

I was first involved in the Buttom-Up Budgeting or BuB though the local poverty reduction action planning workshop in Sablayan way back in January 31, 2013. I found out too that the whole essence of BuB planning and budgeting process can be captured in a short prayer of St. Thomas of Aquinas which was originally recited in Latin that could guide us through the coming year.

The BuB, now called Grassroots Participatory Budgeting Process (GPBP) became a buzzword among civil society organizations (CSOs) all over the country and of course, the officers at all levels of the Department of the Interior and Local Government or DILG. I even suspect that it even followed them in their sleep. Here in Occidental Mindoro, again, I had the opportunity to mingle with the CSOs of Paluan and Mamburao for the conduct of the Municipal CSO Assembly as an initial step in the BuB for Fiscal Year 2015. As you could recall, I have posted the account of my first experience with the CSOs in the province through this ENTRY.

The CSO Assembly is an inclusive meeting of all CSOs in certain municipality to be facilitated by the DILG, usually the MLGOO, together with the respective Municipal Planning and Development Offices or MPDOs with the assistance of an accredited CSO by the National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC) and that’s how I came into the picture. I am a PO-NGO by heart.

The GPBP/BuB approach is guided by 3 principles: convergence, participation and empowerment. It aims to achieve community empowerment by encouraging citizens to take active roles in the community by articulating their needs to the government and determining what projects are responsive to their needs. The CSO Assembly in Paluan was held at the Senior Citizen’s Building last December 17 while in Mamburao it was held at the Municipal Gymnasium on December 18, 2013.

Aside from rare instance of meeting CSO leaders, I also met the two lady MLGOOs in said two municipalities and instantly became my friends. They are Mesdames Yoly Rose T. Jordan and Maristela H. Guillermo of Paluan and Mamburao, respectively. They, along with their respective MPDCs initiated said activity. I handled/facilitated their selection of members and co-chair to the Local Poverty Reduction Action Tear or LPRAT and the other signatories to the Local Poverty Reduction Plan (LPRAP). The GPBP is an enabling strategy of the administration of Pres. Benigno Aquino III in realizing governance reforms. Aside from the election of LPRAT representatives and selection of LPRAT co-chairperson and the CSO signatories to the LPRAP, there was a series of orientation and updates rendered by Ma’am Apple Jordan and Ma’am Maris Guillermo in their respective AOR that very day.

The process stimulates partnership between local government and civil society until participatory governance is put into praxis. Mayor Ed B. Gadiano is one of the staunch believers of this imperative partnership between the LGU and the CSOs. He, as we all know, came from the ranks of the CSO before he entered politics. The result of all the local planning and budgeting is the convergence of plans and priorities as projects are harmonized at the national level by national government agencies in their programs and budget for implementation.

Of course there are still gaps in implementing the BuB/GPBP in the province and that need to be addressed by the participating national agencies especially the DILG and NAPC. Anyway, there’s no such thing as finished project in all dimensions of public service. Also, there’s always a room for improvement in local governance. Am I right? CSOs that have constantly involved and engaged in local governance definitely could enhance the delivery of services to our fellow Mindoreno, our people. This should be our collective prayer while allow me to greet you all a prosperous new year!

As I have said, for me, the BuB/GPBP spirit was put into capsule in this prayer that “survived” through many new years: “Ingressum intruas/Progressum custodias/Egressum intuas (Look after the preparations/Survey the results/Harvest the fruits)….

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Friday, December 13, 2013

Sablayan DTTBs & RHUs

DTTB stands for Doctors to the Barrios. It is a program of Department of Health (DOH) pioneered in 1993 by then Health Secretary Juan Flavier. The program encourages medical graduates to consider spending a couple of years or so of their professional practice in some of the country’s poorest and most remote barrios and sitios where healthcare needs are prevalent. The program, according to current DOH Secretary Enrique Ona, is aimed to address this gap by providing “equitable healthcare services to all areas of the country by deploying competent, committed, community-oriented and dedicated physicians to serve inaccessible areas.” The Rural Health Unit (RHU) of Sablayan North located at Brgy. Pag-Asa, catering the health needs of people from Barangays of San Agustin, Ilvita, Claudio Salgado, Pag-Asa, Victoria and the rest, has now a DTTB in the person of Dr. Camille Carissa A. Asuncion, MD.

She’s no doubt another DTTB! I'll decode that acronym later.

Mayor Eduardo B. Gadiano through the Municipal Planning and Development Office (MPDO) and the rest of the members of the Local Poverty Reduction Team (LPRAT) initiated last year the Bottom-Up Planning and Budgeting (BuB) for 2013. The LGUs are key vehicles in poverty reduction through BuB. Assisted by the officials of the Department of the Interior and Local Government or DILG under Provincial Director Ulysses E. Feraren, participants of the planning and budgeting process have identified the need for two DTTB in our municipality. The DOH responded positively and dispatched, initially, the young doctor from Calaca, (or was it Nasugbu?) Batangas. The BuB by the way is a process that ensure the inclusion of the funding requirements for the development needs of at least 300 of the 609 selected focus LGUs in the country. Our town included.

Aside from DTTB, another program of the DOH is called Health Facilities Enhancement Program or the HFEP. By year 2014, according to data from the Provincial Health Office, the Occidental Mindoro Provincial Hospital in Mamburao is expecting Php 6,693,000.00 for facility enhancement specifically for medical equipment. Allotted for the Sablayan District Hospital on infrastructure is half million pesos while for medical equipment is pegged at Php 4,083.000.00.

The LGU now has two Annex RHUs with corresponding two full-time doctors. RHU-Pag-Asa is headed by Dr. Asuncion while in Ligaya, Dr. Meldie D. Soriano, MD is at the helm. The 2 RHUs were inaugurated only last April 9 and October 30 of this year, respectively. According to Dir. James F. Fadrilan, CESO IV, Regional Director of DILG-Mimaropa, Sablayan is the only town in the region which has two municipal/RHU extension buildings.

In our 2013 Annual Investment Plan, people from the Municipal Health Office with regards to maternal care, have projected an increased facility-based delivery by 40%. The 2 RHUs intend to bring health services closer to the people especially those who dwell in far-flung communities specifically with regards to Basic Emergency Obstetric and Newborn Care or BEmONC.

Let us go back to DTTB. Every DTTB in the country is expected to develop health systems, projects and programs based on the priority needs of the locality. Including the management of the mobilization of resources for projects and programs related to public health and RHU operation through an established inter/intra-agency partnership and collaboration, among other things stipulated at the MOA between the LGU and the DOH represented by Mayor Ed and Dr. Ariel I. Valencia, MD, MPH, CESO III, Director of Community Health Department (CHD) of Region IV-B.

In all aspects of President Simeon Benigno S. Aquino III’s “Kalusugan Para sa Lahat”, health service providers in Sablayan generally fared well. They, to paraphrase the Hippocratic Oath, always preserving the finest traditions of their calling and the long experience of the joy of healing those who seek help, especially our stakeholders in programs and projects under IPAO, the Alangan and Taobuid Mangyans of Sablayan. They risk their lives and limbs defying dangerous trails and other hardships to render their avowed duty and mission. 

Aside from the two women physicians that I have already mentioned, my kudos too to all women health care practitioners or health service providers of Sablayan I rubbed elbows with like Mesdames Anna Marie Sheryll R. Kenept, Mary Jinky E. Ani, including my bosom friend in Nurse Jho T. Manzano.

In their own rights, they are DTTBs too: Dedicated, Truly Talented and,… Beautiful…

(Photo: Sablayan Herald)

Monday, December 9, 2013

Middle of the Road

Margaret Thatcher once said, “Standing in the middle of the road is very dangerous; you get knocked down by the traffic from both sides.” Well, our people won’t figuratively stand in the middle of the road the moment roads and bridges in our beloved Occidental Mindoro would not be hellish anymore like what I have said in the my blog entry some years back called “Ruts and Roads”.

Well, as I have written, there were two programs on roads and bridges for the whole of mainland Occidental Mindoro then. In case you do not know, the first ambitious road program in the province started in 1981. It was a component of the Philippine Government's Rural Roads Improvement Program supported by a $62 million loan approved by the World Bank (WB) to Marcos government. That year, the construction of national road began connecting the 170.6 kilometer-road from San Jose to Mamburao. In the early 80’s, said project was marred by problems in many aspects like severe mismanagement, inadequate planning, corruption and over-bureaucratization. The road construction program was part of the Mindoro Integrated Rural Development Program or MIRDP. The project is not completed due to different reasons,- both natural and man-made, rolled into one. This I have learned from Volker Schult who extensively wrote about Mindoro Island in the mid 80s.

Next is the second grand project. In January 7, 1999, the Loan Agreement No PH-P188 was signed and paved the way for the Mindoro West Coast Road Improvement Project. The total loan amount was 9,621 Million Yen from the Japan International Cooperating Agency (JICA) and the executing agency is the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH). The project was “completed” in December 2005. The infrastructure includes construction of Busuanga Bridge, the road junction to Rizal, some road pavements in Sablayan, San Jose and Mamburao sections,- among others, including the much feared Patrick Pass.

Then the chop-chop scandal came into the picture. But let us forget them, err.. that, and put our hopes in the light at the end of the tunnel. With this recent development on our roads and bridges, we are already at the middle of the proverbial road to progress.

But now, the Mindoro West Coast Road Improvement Project under Road Upgrading and Preservation Project (RUPP)- Upgrading and Improvement Component which is also under JICA in Loan Agreement No. PH-P247. The loan started in March 2011 and its expiry date is July 31, 2023. My source here is the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Region IV, by the way. The program generally provides a well paved upgraded roads and bridges reliable and safe to all travelers and road users. It is would also reduce travel time and vehicle maintenance, etc. It is composed of 4 Contract Packages (CPs): The CP II (Rizal-Calintaan Section), CP III (Calintaan-Sablayan Section), CP IV (Sablayan-Sta. Cruz Section), CP-IV-A (Sablayan-Sta. Cruz Road Section).

I need not specify technically each program of work and or its major work items so be advised to ask the Provincial Government specifically the Provincial Planning and Development Office (PPDO) or the DPWH about it (Or I could send it to you via PM through my FB account if you request for it) due to lack of space.    

But I am sharing you the following project cost for the individual CPs: for CP II its Php 292 M; CP III its Php 1,269 M; CP IV its Php 439,947,573.28 M; for CP IV-A Php 285.5 M. Nobody asked me but I am a participant to Provincial Development Council Meeting last December 8, 2013 in San Jose representing our CSO. The meeting was attended by almost all of the province’s municipal mayors led by Gov. Mario Gene J. Mendiola himself and Cong. Josephine Ramirez-Sato.

If I may reiterate, more than ever, what we need now is committed citizens’ arm to monitor such projects. Concerned citizens must hit the road for this.

And not just figuratively stand in the middle of the road… 

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