By Michael Umaming/NEDA-CAR

An assessment paper on the Regional Development and Autonomy Program, prepared by the Regional Autonomy Staff under the NEDA-CAR, showed that a total of 94 projects under its three components namely Information, Education and Communication (IEC); Capability Building; and Alliance Building, had been undertaken.    

The Report showed that as part of its alliance building work particularly with Congress, the Department of Budget and Management and the Office of the President, the RDC managed to get support to its renewed pursuit for autonomy in the amount of P78 million broken down into P15 million annually since 2007 except in 2008 when P18 million was provided and in 2009 when there was no budget allocated.

Of the 94 projects, 50 were IEC projects with a total cost of P31.57 million, 42 were Capability Building projects with a total cost of P30.14 million, and only 2 were Alliance Building projects with a total cost of P10 million.  

The RDC, in a Strategic Planning Workshop in March 2006, decided to adopt Regional Autonomy as its Overarching Goal.

IEC Projects

A total of 50 IEC projects were funded since 2007.  Of these projects 36 were completed while 14 are still on-going or have not yet started.

The projects were found to be relevant as they have catalyzed discussion on Regional Autonomy.  These projects include conduct of Kapihan, press conferences, essay writing contests on autonomy, and pulse survey to track perception on regional autonomy, production of audio visual materials. Learning materials, radio and television plugs, advertisements, production of copies of the draft organic act, and maintenance of website dedicated to Regional Autonomy.

Seven of the projects, accordingly did not attain their planned targets because of factors like duplication, non-completion of prerequisite activities, fund allocation has lapsed (the autonomy fund has a 2-year shelf life and shall be automatically reverted to the national treasury if not spent within this period), and lack of documentation.

Recent IEC projects focused on reaching the grassroots through consultations that were done through the Local Government Units (LGU) and Non-Government Organizations.  In 2010 and 2011, an amount of P0.5 million and P1 million were provided to the provincial LGUs for this purpose.

There were problems with delays such as in the cases of 19 projects.  The paper identified one or a combination of the following problems as among the causes:  a) Delayed submission of credit notice; b) Delayed liquidation of previous releases; c) Disallowances by COA; Changed/Added target; and c) Delay in completing the required activities.

The delays resulted to some reverting of funds.  About 15% of the IEC fund, a total of P0.64 million, had been reverted to the national treasury.    

Among the recommendations on IEC projects is for partners to get orientation on auditing and accounting work of the Commission on Audit (COA) with no less than personnel of COA acting as resource persons.  

A recent pulse survey on regional autonomy showed that the “yes” vote is increasing and nipping into the undecided populace if viewed along the result of the first pulse survey in 2007.

Capability Building Projects

Of 42 projects under Capability Building, 27 were completed; 6 are still on-going; and 7 have not yet started.

Of the 27 projects, 16 had immediate outcomes.  The following were noteworthy outcomes:

  •  One participant in DOST’s study trip on high precision machining works has reportedly established his own localDOST also decided to infuse P12 million for skills training on high precision machining in Baguio City;
  •  In NEDA’s Project Development training, 17 of the 59 proposals prepared during the training were funded;
  •  DENR’s Watershed Summit highlighted the critical role of the Cordillera watersheds amongConsequently, watershed development and autonomy were adopted as the twin development strategies in the updated Regional Development Plan.

The assessment concluded that despite implementation issues that affected  some projects, the projects were generally relevant to the development of the regions especially along areas that the national government will eventually devolved to the autonomous region such as: administrative organization; creation of sources of revenues; ancestral domain, natural resources and environment; personal, family and property relations; regional urban and rural planning and development; economic, social and tourism development; educational policies; preservation, safeguarding and development of the cultural heritage; patents, trademarks, trade names and copyrights; and such other matters as maybe authorized by law for the promotion of the general welfare of the people of the region. 

Alliance Building Projects

Two Alliance Building Projects namely Preparation of a Working Draft on Regional Autonomy; and Support to Meetings/Conferences with Members of Congress, Office of the President, National Government Offices and Other Critical Stakeholders, were facilitated. 

Only the Drafting of the Third Organic Act was evaluated as the other project is continuing.  It was done as planned and has now been adopted and filed in both houses of Congress.