In fighting poverty, collaboration is necessaryPosted on
DAVAO CITY — Often government programs and policies fail because government agencies and political leaders compete to earn recognition at the expense of their beneficiaries, says Davao del Norte Governor Edwin I. Jubahib. But not now — not in his province.
Winning the fight against poverty and ending insurgency is a tough job for a local government alone, said Eastern Mindanao Command Chief LtGen Jose C. Faustino, “It needs convergence, and it needs unity among government agencies and the stakeholders of development”.
The critical collaboration among government agencies in the province of Davao del Norte has benefitted the people “ang katawhan ang nakadaug, labi na sa among lungsod sa Talaingod (the people won, especially in our town), claimed Mayor Jonnie Talaingod.
For decades, the Ata-Manobo of Talaingod never felt any government intervention and was never given enough support by the government, resulting in the fast-growing number of insurgents, but not this time, Libayao claims as saying, “We are given priority in terms of economic and livelihood, everyone feels we are being taken care of,” he said in vernacular.
Talaingod was among the towns painted red in the map of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and has been considered as Geographically Isolated and Disadvantaged Areas (GIDA). However, collaboration among leaders and those people pushing to realise President Rodrigo Duterte’s Executive Order No. 70 was also a key factor.
EO 70 was crafted and aimed at institutionalizing the whole-of-nation approach in attaining inclusive and sustainable peace, creating a national Task Force to end local communist armed conflict, and directing the adoption of national peace framework has spelled the difference, especially in Talaingod town.
To date, over 200 of the 800 housing units have been constructed for the indigenous people’s community, the funds coming from the National Housing Authority.
Libayao said, Marcelino Escalada, the NHA general manager has committed to funding eight (8) IP housing sites all in Talaingod with 100 houses in each community. Not only that, students coming from remote villages will be provided an IP dormitory for them to concentrate on their studies rather than spend long hours of walking every day.
Datu Guibang Apoga, who once led an anti-government force in Davao del Norte said, never felt government support for decades “wala man gyud nagtagad namo, wala mi gihatagan og suporta sa among panginabuhian ug ang among mga anak maglisod og adto sa eskuelahan kay wala may dalan (No one cares for us, we were not given support and livelihood, it is very difficult to send children to school because there was no road)”.
Frustration, according to Guibang was foremost of the reasons why IPs in the hinterlands are forced to join the insurgents.
Pinning their hopes for the current administration’s promise to alleviate their conditions, Gibang was content on believing that there is always better life ahead, and he clings on President Duterte’s electoral agenda, that those who have been deprived of government support will be prioritized.
As it is now, roads leading to the housing communities and other preparation for the projects will be undertaken by the Philippine Army, Jubahib revealed.
“Supporting a community and the local government units have been part of our mandate, especially now that the President is bent on ending the insurgency,” Faustino said.
The people of Talaingod has been provided technical and technology-transfer training provided by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).
Months ago, no less than TESDA director Secretary Isidro Lapeña travelled to Talaingod to personally hand-over the diploma of the IPs who graduated in various technical courses, “I am very happy to be here and hand your diploma because I feel your sincerity to transform your life and acquire new skills,” he said in a graduation message.
MGen Reuben S. Basiao, the commander of the 10th Infantry “Agila” Division whose leadership brand is engaging through the communities said, “In the case of Talaingod, we see that a military solution will not solve insurgency”.
The development in Talaingod, according to Basiao “Is practically a model of the whole-of-nation-approach. We counter issues of insurgency on different levels, the AFP its armed component while the local government unit takes care of the economic and social component”.
Faustino said the success of Davao del Norte and in Talaingod can be attributed to the dynamism and unity of the political leaders in the province “Once the political landscape is solid, mas madali ang coordination” because they move in one direction.
“We can act immediately because there is unity from the political leadership which cascades to the ground and will result in a common endeavor,” he added.
Jubahib recalled that after he took his oath as a Governor, he immediately called for a meeting among local officials, “Even if they belong to the other political party, I called on them for a conference and discussed what is best for the province, I need to work with them and they need to work with me because we are all elected public officials”.
The province cannot develop if one is left behind, he added “No one must be left behind, we need to work together as One Davao del Norte, One people”.
When the military or the Philippine National Police needs support because they need to develop or help and area, Jubahib said “I immediately respond, I act on it as soon as I know it is needed, not tomorrow, not later but NOW! Because in responding to the urgent needs of peoples, time is of the essence, dapat kaagad”.
The approach, according to Jubahib, is “Act on it immediately without sacrificing the government regulations, we have standby funds, the LGU also have, so when we feel that the need is pressing, we act on it”.
Libayao said, people of his town now feels the presence and support of government “Before they do not even know what government is doing for them, but now they are very supportive because they are recognized, supported and attended.”
“Before, people are afraid to come to my town, but now, people are coming, tourists are coming, we have nice road, good tourist destination and there is peace,” he added.
The gains which the current administration has earned must be sustained and sustaining it needs follow-up support from the next administration, “Because ending a 50-year old insurgency problem cannot be done in six years, we need to protect the gains that we have now, we need the support of the next administration to ensure the program is sustained,” Jubahib emphasized.
“We have triggered development in the community, under the current administration, we need to continue doing it to protect the gains because we are putting an end to a 50-year old problem,” Basiao added.
The challenge now is to be able to identify who to “Converge from the different agencies . . . but we overcome it, the next is sustenance and I mean the next leader of the country,” Basiao said.
“We need more champions on the ground, we need prime movers from the provincial to the municipal level and people’s cooperation,” he stressed.
From the side of the AFP, Basiao said, “We need more company commanders who have the heart to understand and serve the communities; we need more squad leaders who possess the same passion as their commanders are doing to ensure continuity of our gains.
All government agencies, instrumentalities, and political leaders must work together for the common good of the community beyond political boundaries, Jubahib emphasized.
The template for development, according to the officials is so simple, Convergence and Collaboration, and above all common direction. -Editha Z. Caduaya/Newsline.ph