Can simple people handle large amount of government fund? Do they have the ability to spend it without the risk of corruption?

While others doubt, the Philippine Rural Development Project (PRDP) believed. To establish its confidence that common people like project beneficiaries can manage government funds, the Project’s Procurement team headed by PRDP South Luzon Procurement Unit Head Michael Gregory Vargas conducted the Training on Community Participation (CP) for LGU and Proponent Group Procurement Committee on April 10-12, 2017 in Sorsogon City.

 

Five proponent groups (PGs) with approved microenterprise subprojects in the province’s calamity-stricken areas were oriented about the system and process of implementing the PRDP’s CP and Community Force Account (CFA) modes of procurement. The PGs include the Rural Improvement Club of Bagacay in Gubat, Samahang Mangingisda ng Tomalaytay in Castilla, Carayat Seaweed Farmers Association in Prieto Diaz, Cogon Fisherfolk Organization in Castilla and the Samahan ng Mangingisda ng Gimaloto in Sorsogon City. PRDP will provide 10 units of non-motorized fiberglass boats and 25 tons of seaweed propagules to each PG, to be procured using CFA.

With CP and CFA, the proponent groups are authorized to source out or procure works and goods contracts worth 50,000 dollars or below from the organization or its members for the construction of small support infrastructure or provisions of needed services. Application of these modes of procurement should be in accordance with the Enterprise Investment Agreement and consistent with the Enterprise Subproject Procurement Plan.

Each PG is required to organize a procurement committee composed of a chairman and two members. The procurement committee or canvasser will take charge of soliciting quotations from at least three suppliers, evaluating submitted quotations and preparing the abstract of quotations and subsequently awarding of purchase order to the winning supplier.

According to Vargas, the CP and CFA training will capacitate the PGs in adopting the PRDP procurement method in their own organizations’ procurement process. He added that it will also fast track the release of PRDP interventions to its intended beneficiaries. As part of the training, the PGs’ procurement committee members were taught how to conduct actual canvassing of their non-motorized fiberglass boats.

“The CFA is a great mode para mas mapabilis natin yung intervention na kailangan nating ibigay doon sa mga proponent groups na talagang target ng ating project. At the same time, we're not only capacitating and educating the LGUs to do procurement but also yung grassroots mismo. We train them so that eventually, sa sarili nilang organisasyon ay i-apply nila na pwede pala silang magkaroon ng ganitong proseso. In this mode of procurement, makikita ng mga tao na black and white meron tayong PR, meron tayong solicitation, meron tayong opening, meron tayong abstract of bids -- transparent. And when they adopt it among themselves, yung issues regarding sa mga internal nila na procurement at least sana ma-resolve (The CFA is a great mode to fast track the interventions needed by the proponent groups who are our target beneficiaries. At the same time, we’re not only capacitating and educating the LGUs to do procurement but the grassroots as well so that they could adopt our process in their respective organizations. In this mode of procurement, people would see the black-and-white. We have the PR, solicitation, opening and abstract of bids—transparent. And when they adopt it among themselves, hopefully, internal issues about procurement would be resolved),” Vargas added.

According to Yolanda de Leon, president of the Rural Improvement Club of Bagacay in Gubat, Sorsogon, through the CP and CFA modes of procurement, they are guaranteed that the PG will get the best quality fiberglass boats.
Meanwhile, Candelaria Esplana, president of the Carayat Seaweed Farmers Association in Prieto Diaz, Sorsogon, said that adopting the CP and CFA in their organization will promote transparency.

“Namulat ako na huwag lang basta-bastang gumawa ng transaksyon na hindi recorded para transparent sa lahat. Mas walang pagdududa kasi documented (I was taught that transactions should be properly documented to promote transparency. It is more credible because it is documented),” she added.

Using CP and CFA modes of procurement, the PGs are required to use geotagged photos in all procurement activities. Geotagging is one of PRDP’s innovative tools in which digital resources like photos, websites and text messages are being associated with a physical location to provide the precise location of subprojects.

“If this turn out to be good, we can replicate the PRDP model to other projects so that they can fast track the services needed by the farmers and fisherfolk--they can speed up projects and services following the PRDP model. We’ll do away with the very tedious procurement process,” Sorsogon Provincial Project Management and Implementation Unit (PPMIU) I-REAP Head Esteven Garcia said.

Vargas lauded the local government unit’s enthusiasm to help as well as the PGs’ enthusiasm to engage themselves in the process. However, he underscored that the PGs should strictly follow the process and provide the necessary documents required in CFA procurement otherwise, the entire process will suffer.

Moreover, PRDP South Luzon Associate Procurement Officer Clarinda Sarmiento stressed the value of close coordination between the LGU and PGs and continuous capacitation of the LGU and PG involved. She added that conducting pre-canvass before the actual procurement is one of the best practices that they may adopt.

The said Training on Community Participation for LGU and Proponent Group Procurement Committee is the first CFA training in Bicol.

“We're looking forward for the PG to issue their Purchase Order and eventually the delivery of those being purchased,” Vargas added. (Annielyn L. Baleza, DA-PRDP RPCO V InfoACE Unit)