Friday, November 21, 2014

Modest Catanduanes town is Bicol’s bet in DSWD’s Gawad Listahanan national contest
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, Nov. 19 (PNA) – Pandan, a small and remote town in the island-province of Catanduanes, will represent Bicol as the region’s bet in the first Data Utilization National Awards of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

The Awards, also called the Gawad Listahanan, will be given to local government units (LGUs) that have registered the most number of beneficiaries for their locally-funded programs based on the database of the National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction (NHTS-PR).

NHTS-PR, also called the Listahanan, is the country’s database of poor households being made available to stakeholders as reference in identifying potential beneficiaries of social protection programs.

The Listahanan database was put in place following a nationwide assessment conducted by the DSWD in 2009, which resulted in the identification of 5.2 million poor households out of the 10.9 million households covered.

That database then was made available only to national government agencies (NGAs) and non-government organizations (NGOs) involved in social protection activities—but in 2011, DSWD started sharing it to LGUs.

To date, it has registered 1,047 users, 935 of which are LGUs.

And with a new database to be generated through the second round of nationwide assessment starting before the end of this year and after almost four years of sharing the first one for use by LGUs, DSWD Secretary Corazon “Dinky” Soliman declared that “it is timely for the project to give awards and recognition to those that have maximized its use” -- thus, the Gawad Listahanan.

Arnel Garcia, DSWD’s regional director for Bicol, on Thursday said that although the department plans to expand award eligibility to NGOs and its other stakeholders in the future to promote the convergence of all in effectively addressing the different aspects of poverty, the first Gawad Listahanan will focus solely on LGUs – provincial, city and municipal.

“We want first to acknowledge the efforts of our LGU- data users for providing services and assistance to the Listahanan-identified poor families,” Garcia said.

The search for the awards started in the regional level in the middle of this year and ended last Oct. 15 with three qualifiers—the municipalities of Presentation, Camarines Sur; Sto. Domingo, Albay; and Pandan,Catanduanes.

Following a series of evaluations based on submitted requirements identifying active social protection projects and programs benefiting the Listahanan-identified poor, Garcia said Pandan bested the two other towns to be chosen as Bicol’s entry to the national-level competition.

Garcia said Pandan implemented various programs such as Aid to Individuals in Crisis Situation (AICS) which provides burial, medical, transportation, food and educational assistance wherein the municipal government allocated Php1 million for this purpose, giving priority to the Listahanan-identified poor.

The LGU also introduced Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP) to address the livelihood needs of the poor through the provision of skills training on soft broom making, dressmaking, hairdressing and cosmetology for out-of-school and in-school youth.

Aside from SLP, a 120-day supplemental feeding for 676 children of pre-school ages was also implemented through a DSWD-funded program wherein the Pandan-LGU provided a counterpart-manpower of 27 day care workers.

This supplemental feeding program has raised the awareness, attention and involvement of parents who also availed the Parents Effectiveness Program (PEP)--a project that advocates effective and responsible parenthood.

The Pandan Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office (MSWDO) has also been noted to give importance on serving the elderly and persons with disabilities in which 99 indigent senior citizens, 77 years old and above, benefited from the government’s Social Pension Program.

Likewise, the Pandan LGU initiated disaster preparedness training for natural calamity-prone areas where most of its affected households are included in Listahanan, according to Garcia.

The municipality that is bounded on the north by the Pacific Ocean and by Maqueda Channel on the west lies on the northern tip of Catanduanes province, 96 kilometers from the capital town of Virac.

It is a small, sleepy town of about 18,000 friendly, hospitable, peace-loving and happy people occupying 26 barangays.

During special family occasions and celebrations done through food serving, tuba (coconut wine) drinking and pantomina dancing (a long-cherished native Bicolano dance), immediate neighbors are invited, bringing along all the members of the family.

For the people of Pandan, everyone in the community is a brother, a sister and a friend.

Each one cares for each other -- an attribute that makes the LGU more concerned over the plight of its poor, according to its mayor, Joseph Al Randie Wong.

“We use Listahanan as the database for the implementation of various programs, projects and activities to provide social protection accurately and correctly for a comprehensive, complete, substantial, and honest public service. Listahanan is indeed very useful to local government units,” he said.

Garcia said his office had already submitted Pandan as Bicol’s official entry to the national Gawad Listahan Awards for the final screening and review of all entries from all the 17 regions of the country in accordance with the award guidelines.

The national awarding will be done during the DSWD anniversary in January next year and winners for each category (municipal, city, provincial) will receive a plaque and a cash incentive of at least Php50,000, which will be provided based on a project proposal promoting Listahanan, the DSWD regional chief added. (PNA) CTB/FGS/DOC/CBD/EDS