The Department of Agriculture Bicol conducted its 1st DA Bicol Civil Society Organization (CSO) Summit and Awarding Ceremonies to highlight the value of CSO accreditation and engagement in implementing its programs, activities and projects (PAPs). About 69 DA-accredited CSOs participated in the activity which was held in Magarao, Camarines Sur on December 6, 2023.

According to Aloha Gigi Bañaria, Chief of the DA Bicol Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation Division and Head of the DA CSO Accreditation Regional Technical Working Group, the event institutionalizes the annual conduct of the CSO Summit in the region and emphasizes the importance of CSO accreditation.

“With the farmer-leaders here and the local AFC leaders from the different provinces, tulungan niyo po kaming maikampanya na we need the accreditation ng mga CSOs. Why? Para po ma-safeguard naman natin ang public funds. Sa dami ng interventions, limited resources ng gobyerno, tama lamang po na pahalagahan natin kung ano man ang puwedeng itulong sa atin,” she said.

She called for the local government units’ financial support in organizing, strengthening, as well as ensuring the growth and development of rural-based organizations (RBOs) as stipulated in the Mandanas ruling. She also guaranteed that the DA Bicol remains committed in implementing PAPs that are responsive to the needs of the agri-fishery sector.

Among the highlights of the activity is the awarding of certificates of accreditation to 20 newly-accredited CSOs and one that renewed its accreditation.

DA Bicol also recognized the Outstanding CSO co-implementers and beneficiaries during the event.

The Outstanding CSO Co-Implementers was awarded to CamSur Multi-Purpose Cooperative, San Agustin San Ramon Agrarian Reform Farmers Cooperative (SARFC), and Magarao Multi-Purpose Cooperative. Meanwhile, the Mambalite Palangon Farmers Irrigators Association, Bikolanas Agriculture Cooperative, and Nabua West Multi-Purpose Cooperative were recognized as Outstanding CSO Beneficiaries. Moreover, Special Awards were given to the Camarines Sur Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc. and the Pilipinas Shell Foundation Inc. Each awardee received a certificate of recognition and P10,000 cash award.

Philippine Council for Agriculture and Fisheries OIC-Executive Director Julieta Opulencia graced the occasion. She lauded the CSOs in Bicol as well as the DA Bicol CSO Accreditation Regional Technical Secretariat for the successful conduct of the 1st DA Bicol CSO Summit and Awarding Ceremonies.

“Impressed na impressed po talaga ako. Talaga pong tuwang-tuwa ako dahil nakita ko na ang daming outstanding which means talaga pong you worked together as a team,” she said.

She also sought the CSOs’ accountability and integrity in implementing DA-funded programs and projects.

“Dahil napakalaki po ng trust na ibinibigay sainyo, ipinagkakatiwala ng gobyerno ang pera sainyo at ang mga proyektong ito. Naniniwala po kami at umaasa na ang inyong integrity sa pag-implement ng mga proyekto ay pananatilihin po ninyo kasi alam niyo po naman na kapag nagkaroon kayo ng isang project na hindi ninyo na-implement ng maayos, tapos na po, hindi na po kayo ulit bibigyan. Kasama po ‘yun kasi sa requirements for accreditation. Kailangan po na-accomplish ninyo, maayos ang performance ninyo sa mga co-engagement activities ninyo with DA,” Opulencia said.

As part of the activity, DA Bicol invited some resource speakers to lecture on subjects relevant to the effective and efficient management and operation of CSOs.

RAFC Bicol Resource Speakers’ Bureau member and Oragon Farmers Agriculture Cooperative Chief Executive Officer Fr. Granwell Pitapit exhorted on the Importance of Values Formation and Moral Recovery Among CSOs. He stressed the CSOs’ roles in influencing the state and the market. He also oriented them on the types, roles and formation of values as well as the stages of moral development.

Meanwhile, Arlyn Joy Alarcon, Information Officer from Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Maricho Pobre, Chief of the Cooperative Development Authority (CDA) Bicol Supervision and Examination Section, discussed their registration process and guidelines on the compliance with reportorial requirements.

Albay Young Farmers’ Organization Executive Director Josh Barcelon shared their journey as the first youth organization accredited by the DA Bicol. He also shared the RBO’s best practices in implementing the Edible Landscaping project in the 2nd district of Albay.

Moreover, DA RFO V Senior Agriculturist Salvadora Gavino oriented the participants about the DA Integrated National Swine Production Initiatives for Recovery and Expansion (INSPIRE) Program.

Annielen Panerio, General Manager of the CamSur Multi-Purpose Cooperative and Sectoral Chairperson of RAFC Bicol Rice Sectoral Committee, thanked the DA and its personnel for their compassion, commitment, passion and professionalism in assisting CSOs to attain their vision, mission and objectives. She also encouraged her fellow CSOs to stay connected with the DA to align their plans, programs and services with the agency’s.

A total of 92 CSO officers and members participated in the 1st DA Bicol CSO Summit and Awarding Ceremonies. Also present were RAFC Bicol Chairperson Bernadette De Los Santos and RAFC Bicol Vice-Chairperson Benedicto Palmares.

CSOs are domestic corporation, organization, association, labor organization, workers’ association, farmers’ organization or cooperative duly registered with either the SEC, CDA, or Department of Labor and Employment-Bureau of Rural Workers (DOLE-BRW), expressing the interests and values of their members or others, based on socio-economic, ethical, cultural and scientific considerations. The DA, through the PCAF, encourages CSOs to get accredited to qualify as DA’s beneficiaries or co-implementer of its PAPs. As of December 2023, DA Bicol has 121 accredited CSOs. (Annielyn L. Baleza, DA RAFIS V with reports from Gladys R. Guzman and Jallisa Nosil, DA RAFC V)