VIRAC, CATANDUANES – “Grievance Redress Mechanism (GRM) is not just a forum for complaints but rather an opportunity to improve service delivery.” This was underscored by Philippine Rural Development Project (PRDP)-Bicol Social and Environmental Safeguards (SES) Officer Teresita Blanqueza during the Trainings on Citizens Monitoring Tool, Barangay Implementing Team and Grievance Redress Mechanism (GRM) held in Virac, Catanduanes on July 9-10, 2019.
The training on GRM, which was attended by 30 barangay officials within the road influence area as well as infrastructure development (I-BUILD) and SES staff from the Provincial Project Management and Implementation Unit (PPMIU) of Catanduanes, aims to capacitate the community on the Project’s GRM framework. GRM is an integral project management element designed to seek feedback from beneficiaries and resolve complaints on project activities and performance.
“Nagpapasalamat kami sa ginawang pag-invite sa amin sa training kasi nalaman namin yung mga karapatan namin bilang punong barangay pati na rin yung mga residente ng aming barangay kung paano ma-monitor ang trabaho para sa magandang quality ng trabaho na matagal na magagamit namin ang kalsada. Babantayan namin yung tamang proseso ng paggawa ng aming kalsada,” Jojit S. Tabiñas, Brgy. Chairman of Brgy. Maui in Caramoran, Catanduanes, said.
According to Blanqueza, the GRM focuses on the needs of the communities that are directly or significantly affected by project operations but have limited options or capacity to raise their concerns through formal structures such as the courts.
She oriented the participants about the five building blocks of effective GRM namely: Organizational commitment of PRDP’s partner agencies; core principles like fairness, and objectivity, participatory and inclusivity, simplicity and accessibility, proportionality and responsiveness and efficiency; processes, people and analysis. She then discussed the PRDP’s grievance resolution process from the methods by which the project will collect grievances (Uptake), categorizing, assigning priorities and routing grievances to the appropriate entity (Sorting and Processing), establishing clearly defined timetables for acknowledging receipt of complaints and follow-up activities (Acknowledgment and Follow-up), gathering information on the grievance, determining its validity and resolving the grievance (Verification, Investigation and Action), tracking grievances and assessing the progress of efforts to resolve them (Monitoring and Evaluation), and informing GRM users and the public about the results of investigations and the actions taken (Providing Feedback).
GRM is accessible to anyone who has feedback or complaints about the project activities or performance during the pre-implementation, implementation and operation phases through contact details indicated in the Project brochures and flyers. Grievance hotlines are also provided in GRM posters publicly disclosed and posted in the offices of concerned communities and in strategic places of the project’s influence area.
“Malakas yung aming loob na mag-report kasi nandyan sila, handa namang tugunan yung aming mga report. Kung may nakita kaming kamalian sa proyekto ay andyan naman sila para suportahan yung aming mga ire-report na nakikita namin, kung may mali o maganda man na nakikita kami sa proyekto,” Tabiñas said.
Ricky Francisco Idanan, Brgy. Chairman of Brgy. Datag East, shared the same views saying “Dahil po sa training ay naihanda ang aming mga isip sa pagpapaimplementa ng proyektong ito. Malaki ang kaalaman na natutunan naming, mababantayan po namin ng maayos yung proyekto.”
Rodolfo Seña, Brgy. Chairman of Brgy. Panique, also expressed his appreciation of the PRDP especially the Project’s initiative to train the barangay officials.
“Sa ibang proyekto, kusang dumarating na lang sa aming barangay ang mga subproject, walang consultation, walang pa-seminar tungkol sa mga project bilang mga barangay official kung ano ang dapat gawin namin sa pag-monitor ng subproject. Sa PRDP may consultation, may training para malaman namin kung ano ang dapat naming gawin bilang mga barangay official pati na rin yung mga tama at mali na dapat sundin ng kontraktor,” he said.
Blanqueza also cited GRM’s importance in helping the Project Management in prioritizing supervision as well as in preventing implementation concerns from escalating to the point of harm or conflict. Moreover, she noted how GRM data serve as inputs to improve project performance and service delivery.
PRDP requires each barangay in the road influence area to create a Grievance Committee through an ordinance. The committee, chaired by the Barangay Chairman and assisted by barangay tanods and at least two members from the Lupon Tagapamayapa, is tasked to inquire into, act upon, resolve or settle Project-related complaints and disputes. (Annielyn L. Baleza, DA-RAFIS V)