Wednesday, May 25, 2016

DSWD chooses Ligao City as pilot area in Bicol for new PWDs care program
By Danny O. Calleja

LIGAO CITY, May 24 (PNA) –The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has chosen this young Bicol metropolis as the region's pilot area in the implementation of a new care program for persons with disability (PWDs).

Called Community Action and Resources for Accessible, Better, and Leverage Environment (CARe-ABLE), the program’s pilot implementation here was recently formalized with the signing of a memorandum of agreement (MOA) that interlocks the city government and DSWD in a partnership deal.

Signatories to the MOA were Mayor Patricia Gonzalez-Alsua for the local government and Regional Director Arnel Garcia and Social Technology Bureau Director Thelsa Biolena, representing the DSWD.

Biolena on Tuesday said the CARe-ABLE program aimed to provide interventions to PWDs that include, among others, reducing barriers for greater access to resources both from the government and non-government sectors.

The program is also focused on increasing the potentials of PWDs and promoting their rights by way of administering for the sector social enhancement and capability-building activities, she said.

Under the MOA, PWD desks, manned by registered social workers, will be set up by the city government in five pilot barangays—Basag, Tuburan, Pinamaniquian, Maonon and Mahaba, with the DSWD providing funds for their operations.

Alsua expressed gratitude to the DSWD for choosing her administration as implementer of the program and her city as pilot area in Bicol as it would strengthen PWD capacities and promote the sector’s active participation in productive activities.

“Ligao City is a place full of positivity and a city where good things happen. We are committed to building a well-rounded community for the PWDs as we commit ourselves to the success of the program. We are ready to take on this challenge.” she stressed.

Garcia explained that the selection of the city as pilot area for CARe-ABLE was based on certain criteria that include the passage of significant ordinances that protect and uphold the rights of PWDs; and establishment of PWD-friendly and accessible physical structures, architectural features and facilities.

Other considerations taken were the city’s active implementation of programs supporting PWDs like livelihood, employment and training; implementation of programs that create PWD awareness; and implementation of programs that positively impact on the community.

He said physical disability among people came inevitably owing to some natural and man-made circumstances, “nevertheless, disability should not totally render individuals hopeless as they must adjust their sails in order to succeed and reach their destination.”

The level of CARe-ABLE program implementation will be raised throughout its duration based on the needs that would be determined as it goes along, he explained, adding that the city was seen as efficient and reliable in carrying it out, given its all-out support of programs dedicated to PWDs.

As pilot area for Bicol, Garcia said, the city government’s good practices in caring for the disabled will serve as a show window and basis of replication by other local government units (LGUs) in the region.

This is not the first time that the city was awarded DSWD programs designed to help the needy sectors owing to the local administration’s showings in good governance, he said.

Garcia has earlier acknowledged the city as among the few of LGUs in the region using supplementary funds derived from the national government the more sensible way.

Late last year, the city government was provided by the DSWD funds from its Grassroots Participatory Budgeting Process (GPBP) under its Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP), a community-based capacity building initiative that seeks to improve the participants’ socio-economic status by way of preparing them for locally available jobs or facilitate opportunities for micro-enterprise development.

Formerly known as the Bottom Up Budgeting (BUB), GPBP being applied by the Aquino administration is a somewhat modern approach to planning in the use of government’s financial resources that is different from the usual top-down budgeting where the high-level executives make all the decisions in fund dispensations.

This scheme provides the opportunity for grantees to be involved in setting their own goals and expectations for a given financial period and gives them ownership of the decisions, motivating them to meet budgetary constraints that otherwise might seem unattainable or unrealistic if they were delivered by someone without as much understanding of their day-to-day operations.

This city is among the 79 of the 120 LGUs in Bicol assured of Php45 million in extra funding for three years (2014-2016) for use in GPBP-driven initiatives such as projects which include agri-livelihood projects, farm-to-market roads, irrigation and other agri-infra facilities, among others.

These LGUs automatically qualified to the GPBP for having met the requirements, such as being the recipient of Department of Interior and Local Government’s Seal of Good Housekeeping, and implementation of Public Financial Management Improvement Plan as determined by the Department of Budget and Management.

“We are certain that every time the city government is awarded national funds for projects that would benefit the poor and marginalized, the money is in good hands and the projects are religiously implemented,” Garcia said.

He cited as example the SLP which the city government assigned to ditch the old way of “hand-feeding” patronage and conforms with the Indian proverb—“give a man a fish and he lives for day, but teach a man to fish and he lives for life.”

Unlike most LGUs which use their GPBP allocations in infrastructures projects that are not for long time use, Garcia said, Ligao City uses the fund in providing skills training and livelihood technology education that are of lifetime worth for the individual beneficiaries as well as the community which would gain in terms of enhanced longtime productivity. (PNA) RMA/FGS/DOC/CBD