By Emelie Daquipil/NEDA-CAR
The Cordillera Region’s LGUs headed by their local chief executives, together with regional line agencies, academe, other government agencies, and civil society groups and organizations gathered together last November 20-21, 2012 to look at the persistent poverty problem in the region and identify ways to solve it.
Held at the Citylight Hotel in Baguio City, the Cordillera Anti-Poverty Conference-Workshop was attended by about 150 participants. It was coordinated and funded by the Cordillera Regional Development Council.
During this two-day activity, resource persons gave talks on the poverty situation in the region and the various programs being implemented to address it. One highlight was the sharing of Hon. Betty Verzola, Mayor of Luna, Apayao, who shared her municipality’s experiences on how they were able to combat poverty and move from a fifth class municipality to one that is now operating as first class.
During the workshops that followed the talks, the participants, grouped by provinces, were asked to identify the causes of poverty given their localities’ respective socio-environmental situation/context. Among the causes identified were unclear and unfocused poverty reduction strategies and interventions, lack of employment opportunities, high vulnerability to disasters, political dynamics, and the unmanaged population growth especially in the urban areas. Each province was then requested to make a list of ten existing and proposed programs and projects that they believe contribute and could contribute the most to poverty reduction in their areas, specifically focusing on interventions that directly and significantly address the root causes of poverty. This prioritized list shall be used as basis for prioritizing programs and projects for implementation and monitoring by the RDC and its member-agencies and organizations.
The conference-workshop ended with the RDC Co-Chairman Dr. Virgilio C. Bautista encouraging everyone to take an active role in the region’s fight against poverty. He also led the signing the Covenant for Action which symbolized the participants and their respective organizations’ support and commitment to the agreements and decisions reached during the conference-workshop.
This regionwide activity was funded by the Cordillera Regional Development Council under its Special Autonomy Fund. It is the brainchild of the RDC Chairman and Kalinga Governor Jocel C. Baac who recommended during the June 2012 RDC ExCom meeting the conduct of a regional Poverty Summit with LCEs as the main participants as part of the Cordillera’s pursuit of regional autonomy. He said that it is the LGUs that understand best what causes poverty in their localities and thus know which interventions are needed and should be prioritized. The summit, he added will provide the venue for a closer collaboration and convergence of efforts of all sectors concerned, thereby providing opportunity to optimize limited resources and focus direction towards inclusive growth.