Brgy. Macatoc Chairperson Wilfredo Meregillano, during the NEDA 2017 Good Practice Award validation in Oriental Mindoro, explains the convenience that the construction of the Bagong Silang- Macatoc FMR brought to its beneficiaries.
The Philippine Rural Development Project (PRDP) under Department of Agriculture (DA) has qualified for three (3) of the four (4) categories of the 2017 Good Practice Award (GPA) of the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA).
Each with its own set of criteria, these are the categories for Strategies in Achieving Desired Outcome, Strategies in Resolving Recurrent Issues in Project Implementation, and Best Project Management Office.
For the 2017 GPA, the NEDA with the Department of Budget Management (DBM) conducted field validations of the completed interventions of the PRDP in South Cotabato for SOCCSKARGEN and Oriental Mindoro for MIMAROPA.
“At the office, we often only see documents, numbers, and we really do not see the real situation of the project with its beneficiaries. So it is important for us to hear from you, the beneficiaries, on how the project helped or changed your lives. That is why we are here,” said Ianah Olonan from the NEDA Monitoring and Evaluation.
The validation entailed focus group discussions between the validating team and the beneficiaries of the “Oriental Mindoro Calamansi Trading Center” and “Construction of Bagong Silang to Macatoc Farm-to-Market Road (FMR)” which are the respective enterprise and infrastructure subprojects in the province.
Before the trading center, members of the Naujan Farmers’ Association (NaFA) experienced the difficulty of having little to no profit at all when selling their produce during peak season. Because of oversupply and no market links, they are forced to sell at a very low price and just throw away the surplus.
“We were encouraged to plant calamansi again. Now, our seedlings are bearing fruit and we are able to bring our harvest to this trading center. It is very convenient that we are not wasting anymore fruit while still encouraging others to plant,” said Maria Pilar Lumanglas of NaFA.
The beneficiaries of the FMR, on the other hand, mentioned the decrease in their travel time and the added convenience of having a better road when they are transporting their agricultural goods. The access to social services also become easier for them.
Angelina Andaya, a resident of Brgy. Bagong Silang, added that, “When the project came, the value of land increased because the better and more convenient road.”
The two-day GPA validation was able to gather positive testimonies from beneficiaries but it also shed light to the issues on the subprojects that still needs further addressing.
Some particularly mentioned the need to put signage along the FMR since, now that the road is concreted, it is being traversed not just by the residents but also others who are not from the area. Others expressed the need that the FMR should be extended to further barangays in Loyal, San Gabriel, and Antonino.
At the trading center, the beneficiaries asked the assistance of the Oriental Mindoro Provincial Agriculture Office to provide calamansi seedlings since many local farmers are now encouraged to venture into calamansi farming.
After the discussion with the beneficiaries, the NEDA and DBM team also conducted key informant interviews with the members of the provincial local government, headed by Governor Alfonso Umali Jr, as the implementing agency of all completed and ongoing PRDP subprojects in Oriental Mindoro.
“The reason why we are serious in this is because, of course, of the farmers. We’re doing a lot but it’s not enough. The important thing for us is to be able to address the problem of our farmers. While we’re here, let us do what we can for them,” said Governor Umali.
At this point, the dialogue focused on the tools used by the Project in the execution of its subprojects from beginning to end. The Vulnerability and Suitability Assessment (VSA) and Extended-VSA (E-VSA) were specifically mentioned on how the Project scientifically selects areas and prioritizes interventions.
“This is a very important innovation considering that we have strategized on how we could improve not only the industry per se but looking into how we could improve the lives of the farmers. The PRPD basically addressed what the farmers are lacking, what the farmers have been complaining for several decades already,” explained Provincial Planning and Development Office Head Monique Melgar.
In terms of transparency, the geotagging practices being an essential requirement for the completion of subprojects was also highlighted. It avoided the overlapping of government interventions or even the disturbance of protected areas in different municipalities and provinces. Geotagging also helped in the Project’s advocacy against corruption.
DA MIMAROPA Regional Executive Director Antonio Gerundio, meanwhile, commended the good leadership and good strategic plan of Oriental Mindoro for its success.
Gerundio also stressed the importance of having a unified perspective in achieving development. Towards the stakeholders, he said that, “they should also do their responsibilities in production, take care of their resources especially when their crops catch diseases.”
According to NEDA and DMB, 50 percent of the rating of the qualifiers for the GPA will come from the results of field validation while the other 50 percent will come from the result of the panel interview of the members of the Screening Committee (SC). The SC is comprised of representatives from NEDA, DBM, Department of Finance, Office of the President – Presidential Management Staff, University of the Philippines – School of Economics, and IBON Foundation.
The members of DA-PRDP with the NEDA validation team takes a photo with the members of Naujan Farmers’ Association who were present during the NEDA 2017 Good Practice Award validation in Oriental Mindoro. (Photo by Kathrino Resurreccion, DA-PRDP NPCO InfoACE Unit)