Friday, March 4, 2016

DSWD-Bicol celebrates as Masbate community volunteer gets national heroes award
By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, March 3 (PNA) – For being a dutiful community volunteer, a humble villager of Mobo, Masbate has been decorated as among this year’s heroes in the implementation of a government’s anti-poverty alleviation program.

That gives the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Bicol regional office here a reason to celebrate as the impressive feat of Abello Frias of Dacu, an impoverished barangay of the equally poor Mobo town, which won for him a Bayani Ka! Award recently given in Manila is worth the revel.

The award is from the Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (Kalahi-CIDSS), a DSWD program that strives to help alleviate poverty by mobilizing different sectors of society, particularly the grassroots, so they are able to respond to their villages’ communal concerns.

The 2016 “Bayani Ka!” Awards, the second after its first conferment in 2014, is intended to recognize the exemplary efforts of Kalahi-CIDSS community volunteers in ensuring not only the successful implementation of its sub-projects but also in actively mobilizing citizen participation in local governance and poverty alleviation initiatives.

Frias, DSWD Bicol Regional Director Arnel Garcia said, was hailed as among the national winners for the 2nd Bayani Ka! Awards for Luzon cluster because he encouraged his neighbors to participate in all community activities being conducted under Kalahi-CIDSS in spite of resistance among his neighbors during the onset of the program.

Attached to the program as an unpaid worker for seven years, Frias’ heroic deed, which made him exemplary, took place at the height of super typhoon "Pablo" on Dec. 3, 2012.

It was a day before the deadline of submission of their documents needed for the construction of their health center being proposed for funding in Kalahi-CIDSS that he forced his way in the late evening to get their lot document notarized in Masbate City even if he was suffering from flu.

Usually reachable via a 30-minute ride, it took him about two hours to get to the city because the way then was already flooded under Storm Signal No. 2.

“I did not mind getting myself drenched but not the documents. I protected the papers from getting wet so that they were submitted in time and in proper form,” he said in local dialect when interviewed at the DSWD regional office here during a fitting celebration for him Thursday.

According to Garcia, Kalahi-CIDSS conducts the Bayani Ka! Awards to recognize hard works rendered by its community volunteers.

“They are the new generation of champions who could help in the advocacy of making community-driven development (CDD) a reality, hence, after receiving the award, Frias is now more attached to the program as a spokesperson during its promotion activities across Bicol and nationwide,” the DSWD regional chief said.

The other community volunteers from around the country honored during the awarding ceremonies held a the H2O Hotel along Roxas Boulevard in Manila last Feb. 9 were Mary Fe Antones of La Libertad, Negros Oriental for Visayas, and Marcelo Gusanan of Columbio, Sultan Kudarat.

In addition to the honors and prestige that the self-effacing Frias now humbly embraces and his barangay’s completed health center and concrete pathways constructed through his voluntary community leadership, the coastal village has also been allotted by the program funds for the construction of their seawall in reward to their homegrown hero, Garcia said.

Frias’ hometown of Mobo is a fourth class farming and fishing municipality around 15 kilometers southeast of Masbate City, Masbate’s provincial capital.

According to the latest estimates of the National Census and Statistical Board (NSCB) of the Philippine Statistical Authority (PSA), the municipality is among the 10 municipalities of the island-province with the worst poverty incidence measured at a collective rate of 57.9 percent.

With these, Masbate is ranked number one among Bicol’s six provinces with the biggest rate of poverty placed at 44.2 percent, followed by Albay with 36.1 percent based on the 2012 first semester survey — the latest period surveyed by the PSA’s National Statistics Office (NSO).

Hence, the province is among the priority areas in the assignment of Kalahi-CIDSS sub-projects, the most common include public goods or access such as pathways, farm-to-market roads, health centers, water systems, day care centers, seawalls and school buildings; and community enterprise undertakings such as solar dryers, fishery, rice mills and community markets.

It is a CDD initiative of the national government which strongly advocates the involvement of local communities in the design and implementation of development projects to address the issue of poverty in the country.

Placed under the supervision of the DSWD, the project aims to improve local governance by employing the participation of the people in the communities in the development process.

It has an “open menu” wherein communities can propose any project, provided the amount involved is within the municipal allocation and does not belong to its negative list.

These proposed projects were confirmed through a resolution of local legislative councils or Sangguniang Bayan that recommended the grant of allocation in response to the needs of the barangays, especially those who were affected by and are vulnerable to disasters.

Last year, the DSWD completed 532 community development projects in Bicol worth a total of around Php789 million distributed among 26 poor municipalities, including Mobo.

These completed projects represent about 79 percent of all the 679 developmental undertakings of the national government funded through a grant worth a total of Php840.3 million from the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC).

The MCC is an independent American foreign aid agency created in 2004 to help achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by helping development countries like the Philippines achieve economic growth. (PNA) SCS/FGS/DOC/CBD