NAGA CITY - Over 200 stakeholders and officials from the different national government agencies under the Human Development and Poverty Reduction cluster or those involved in land, shelter and food (lupa, bahay at pagkain) took part in a forum dubbed as “Kilos Sambayanan” assembly held at the Tent of Avenue Plaza in this city on October 20.

Initiated and launched in July by the National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC) in partnership with various government agencies this program calls for a unified or convergent effort and commitment of various sectors to lift the poor from poverty. Liza Maza, NAPC secretary said Kilos Sambayanan aims to bring the government closer to the poor and marginalized sectors to create a strong mass movement politically and economically to ensure that the government meets their needs through active participation in governance and national development.

 

The forum last Friday was the third of a series of activities being conducted nationwide which also include audio visual presentations, performances and information kiosks. The first part of the activity was the press conference . The second part was the simultaneous viewing or live streaming of the program and presentation of the various agencies ‘ programs and projects for the poor from the Bureau of Soil and Water Management inside the DA compound in Quezon City. The third part was the open forum where the invited stakeholders in the selected provinces were given the chance to ask questions face-to-face the heads or officials of the various national agencies .

For Bicol, the lead agency was the NIA and its Senior Deputy Administrator Ret. General Abraham Bagasin personally graced the assembly and delivered his message. The DA delegation was led by Regional Executive Director, Dr. Elena B. de los Santos. The other agency heads who graced the event and served as panelists were : Engr. Romeo M. Lopez, NIA regional manager; Engr. Rodolfo S. Pangilinan, DAR Regional director; Engr. Bernardo M. Asetre, NFA Regional manager; Engr. Albert A. Perfecto, NHA, Regional Manager; Mateo Zipagan, PCA Regional Manager; Engr. Albert A. Perfecto, Regional Manager, National Housing Authority; Roberto A. Salvosa, Assistant Department Manager, Home Development Mutual Fund (Pag-Ibig); Engr. Frederick M. de Real, Regional Manager, Social Housing Finance; Engr. Cristina B. Abaño, Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) OIC - Regional Coordinator; Eva B. Balisnomo, OIC, Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB); Melody Relucio, DILG provincial director. Also present were Dr. Edgar A. Madrid, DA, RTD for Research and Regulations and Nora Follosco, Assistant Manager of NFA Cam. Sur and other senior officials of the participating agencies.

The open forum was actively participated in by the invited stakeholders which included farmers engaged in rice, corn, high value commercial crops, livestock, organic farming, agrarian reform beneficiaries officials of irrigators associations, cooperatives, farmers associations and other rural based organizations. They ventilated their concerns and issues which were readily answered and positively considered by the respective agency heads present.

On the question why the DA is channeling through the LGUs its intervention and assistance to farmers instead of giving these directly to farmers group, Director de los Santos explained that the LGUs who have direct access to farmers are also DA’s stakeholders. The LGUs provide the DA the masterlist of farmers in their locality and deploy its extension workers to implement DA programs in their locality and as a protocol DA interventions and assistance are coursed through them especially after a typhoon or calamity. But individual or farmers group especially those duly accredited by the DSWD and the DA accreditation team and other agri-stakeholders can also go directly to the DA and request for assistance.

On the recommendation by Mr. Aquino , a farmer leader from Catanduanes that the NIA be converted to full –fledged line agency, NIA regional manager Lopez answered that they opt to retain their corporate status and there is now a move for organizational strengthening.
On the issue of the rehabilitation and re-orientation of the Pili airport which will affect prime agricultural lands and displace farmers, Engr. Pangilinan of DAR explained that there will be no land conversion but an expropriation order. What DAR is hoping for and willing to support is for the affected farmers to be given reasonable compensation for their agricultural land.

An organic farmer from Goa, Camarines Sur , Emma Campita rallied the other farmers and stakeholders present in the assembly not to rely solely on government support. “Huwag natin iasa ang lahat sa gobyerno at mga ahensiya. Magsumikap tayo at maging bukas sa mga makabagong kaisipan at teknolohiya. Tulad ko, ako ay nagumpisa na walang tulong finansiyal pero ngayon kahita paano umaangat na. Pasalamat din ako sa mga interventions at tulong ng mga ahensiya ng gobyerno. Subalit huwag natin sisihin ang gobyerno kung tayo mismo ay hindi nagsusumikap.”

Taking the cue from this statement of Mrs. Emma Campita the stakeholders /participants took the opportunity to express their gratitude, give their testimonies and affirmation on the multiple benefits and assistance they derived from the various government agencies. ( EMILY B. BORDADO)