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Saturday, May 21, 2022

Passing through: NAPC ups the ante

By: Jimmy Laking 

Time to give credit where credit is due.

This time around I would like to doff my hat off to the National Anti-Poverty Commission for its determined bid to help bring down poverty incidence nationwide to 16 per cent by 2022.

The pesky pandemic notwithstanding, the government’s coordinating agency against poverty has over the past several months been practically all over Mindanao and parts of the Visayas in rallying local government units’ support in bringing down poverty.   The total of 69 MOAs it forged with LGUs is proof of this effort with more in the pipeline.

Secretary Felongco stressed that the MOAs would ensure no community is left behind, especially geographically-isolated and disadvantaged areas.

The MOAs mandated the LGUs to undertake the implementation of the NAPC’s Sambayanihan: Serbisyong Sambayanan  or 3S program that sought to reduce poverty in 40 priority provinces.

For its part, the NAPC will help tap volunteers to implement the program on the ground.

“We cannot do it alone, hence we are reaching out to the LGUs to do their share,” he added.

Recently, Secretary Felongco and Undersecretary Penelope Belmonte traveled northwards to the capital town of La Trinidad in Benguet to pay Mayor Romeo K. Salda a courtesy call.

In his FB account, Felongco said this was part of NAPC’s efforts to inform municipalities and provinces about the agency 3S program. He said nothing has been agreed upon yet but did not rule out more talks either.

This is a developing story whose ending I would like to see. You see, La Trinidad is part of a province that has been able to bring down poverty incidence to 3.5 per cent as of last count, among only a handful of LGUs nationwide that have been able to accomplish the feat. In contrast, the poverty incidence among population in Mindanao stands at 36.2 % as of 2018.

This, despite the lack of a major industry that sustains the economy as you would find in Davao where banana plantations and big corporations abound.

The mining industry in Benguet has long been in the doldrums with the closing of several mines. The tourism industry is also struggling.

But what seems to be keeping the economy in Benguet alive and the reason why no beggars abound is that everybody has something productive to do.

Where Davao farmers speak in terms of hectares, the predominantly vegetable and cutflower producers of Benguet have been making do on square meters of land. Yet they are not complaining.

It is their industry, I believe, that has managed to bring down poverty to manageable levels. True, there are poor people among them but even these do have shelters to call their own and none so desperate as to resort to begging to survive.

Most impressive of all, LGUs mean it and practice it when they speak of good governance and public service. It is probably this reason why most LGU officials are respected in the province. Here is probably one of the places in the Philippines where local officials walk the streets without bodyguards, drink coffee in coffee shops in the company of common people, and live in residences sans high walls and monitors.
Local officials said people are contented and insurgency is practically non-existent.

The province of Benguet incidentally is also one of several provinces that inspired the crafting of NAPC’s Village Eco-Governance Development Program that sought to address climate change and poverty reduction. The meeting begins.

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