PRDP capacitates Masbate LGU to make change

PLACER, MASBATE – “Efficiency in project implementation does not only mean saving money but achieving quality.” This is the crowning legacy of the Philippine Rural Development Project (PRDP) to his municipality, says Rudy Villanueva, the Municipal Project Management Implementation Unit (MPMIU) Head.

“Sa na-experience namin with PRDP, talagang tinututukan yung proyekto na if the implementation is not efficient, probably makaka-save ka but nakikita mo naman doon sa trainings that we’ve been through, starting from the procurement process to the subproject implementation, monitoring and evaluation talagang kami from the LGU talagang kina-capacitate kami to make change (Through our experience with PRDP, we have noted how projects are closely monitored that if the implementation is not efficient, you’ll probably save some costs but we have seen through the trainings that we’ve been through, starting from the procurement process to the subproject implementation, monitoring and evaluation how we, at the LGU, were capacitated to make change),” he said.

A recipient of the PRDP’s P120.88 million-worth Concreting of Aguada-Locso-an Farm-to-Market Road (FMR), the Municipality of Placer eyes the infrastructure development (I-BUILD) subproject as a key to develop its coconut and goat raising industries, as targeted in the Provincial Commodity Investment Plan (PCIP). Placer has the largest area covered for coconut in the province accounting for about 12.91 percent or 12,437 hectares of the province’s total coconut area.

The 9.50-kilometer FMR is designed to improve the condition of the existing earth and gravelled access road to a permanent and concrete paved road to minimize transportation and maintenance cost. It also aims to reduce the hauling cost of farmers’ output from an average cost of P75 to P40.

Coconut farmer Rodolfo Sevilleno, 52, of Brgy. Burabod Placer, Masbate tills a four-hectare land planted with coconut, mango, corn and vegetables. He earns more or less P3,500 monthly by selling coconut shell charcoal for P20 per kilo or P200 per sack, copra for P24 per kilo, vegetables for P20 to P30 per pack, and mangoes for P50 per sack–enough to feed his family and send his only child to school.

However, Sevilleno admits that bringing his produce to the market is a back-breaking struggle because of the poor road condition. Nonetheless, he perseveres.

“Mahirap ditong dumaan sa kalsada masyadong maputik kapag maulan. Kahit mga habal-habal ay umiiwas na dumaan dito. Nahihirapan kaming magdala ng mga produkto sa lungsod gawa ng wala rin kaming sariling sasakyan. Pinapasan na lang namin ang ani naming gulay, minsan tatlong tao kaming nagbubuhat. Ganyan talaga, mahirap talaga ang buhay dito, hindi ka naman mabubuhay kapag hindi ka magtrabaho (The road is quite inaccessible because it gets muddy during rainy season. Even single motorcycle drivers avoid this route. It’s difficult to bring our agricultural products to the city because we don’t have our own vehicle. We simply carry our vegetable products on our shoulders. Sometimes, it takes three persons to manually haul our products. Life here is really hard, if you don’t work, you won’t survive),” he said.

Brgy. Burabod is one of the five barangays included in the road influence area for the Concreting of Aguada-Locso-an FMR. The I-BUILD subproject is expected to boost the agri-economic and social condition in the project area and benefit 5,846 individuals or 1,087 households.

“Masayang masaya kami ngayon at magkakaroon na din ng kalsada dito. Malaking ginhawa ang maibibigay nito sa amin. Dati panay plano lang ang ginagawa ng gobyerno, ngayong nasimulan na umaasa kaming tuloy-tuloy na (We are very happy now that finally we shall have our own road. It’s a big relief for us. Previously, the government only keeps on planning but now that construction has already started, we hope that they will pursue this project),” smilingly, he added.

The Concreting of Aguada-Locso-an Farm-to-Market Road (FMR) is one of the two ongoing PRDP I-BUILD subprojects in Masbate approved by the Regional Project Advisory Board on July 31, 2015. It started its actual implementation on August 8, 2017 and has now achieved 14.9 percent physical progress.

“Iba yun sa traditional na ginagawa ng mga local government units wherein pag nandyan na yung proyekto bahala na, hindi natin alam kung mapapakinabangan o hindi (This is different from the traditional local government practices wherein the latter is passive whether a project will benefit the people or not),” Villanueva remarked.

He also commended the PRDP for its best practices and proactive measures such as subproject validation and implementation of social and environmental safeguards (SES) standards which are necessary for a smooth project implementation.

PRDP is a six-year development project under the Department of Agriculture designed to establish a modern, inclusive, value chain-oriented and climate-resilient agri-fishery sector in the countryside. (Annielyn L. Baleza, DA-RAFIS V)