President Rodrigo Duterte intends to strengthen the role of non-government organizations in his administration and has directed the implementation of poverty alleviation programs be done in partnership with these groups, Gloria Mercado, deputy Cabinet secretary and executive director of the Presidential Project Monitoring Office, said Saturday.
The control of anti-poverty initiatives of the Duterte administration will no longer be limited to national line agencies but rather through the local government units and accredited NGOs, she said.
As a start, the president has directed all 12 agencies working on anti-poverty programs such as the National Anti-Poverty Commission, Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council will be grouped under one office to ensure that all projects are properly monitored, Mercado said.
She admitted that this requires lot of work as most of these agencies are perceived to be among the corrupt ones in the government.
She also said that Vice President Leni Robredo, who was appointed as Housing Secretary, has asked to be on board in choosing who will head the various councils. Robredo, Mercado said, wants to ensure that the government does not only build homes, but build communities.
On Saturday, Mercado keynoted the 46th anniversary celebration of the Negros Economic Development Foundation, calling the group's founders as “visionaries.”
Bacolod Bishop Antonio Fortich, Carlos Locsin, Antonio Montinola, Eriberto Garcia and Antonio Cumagon loved Negros Occidental so much that they founded an organization dedicated to empowering the lives of Negrenses, she said.
Mercado said she personally wants Robredo to link with the foundation, adding that the government has a lot to learn from the NEDF experience in community and environmental development.
NEDF began its operation in 1970 by conducting management seminars and engaged in research with initial funds from Victorias Milling Company, Negros Navigation Inc., Binalbagan-Isabela Sugar Company and donation of properties by Andres Soriano of San Miguel Corporation.
As the need for diversification came in mid-70s, the foundation went out of its confines of research and began direct community work. Its pilot venture, Project Handumanan started as a relocation site for informal settlers of Bacolod and was declared a barangay in 1985.
After 46 years, the foundation has built communities and empowered lives in 22 municipalities and 10 cities in the province through its housing developments, micro-finance and agricultural technology transfers. They are also implementing environmental conservation initiatives within the Ilog-Hilabangan Watershed Forest Reserve in partnership with Himamaylan and Kabankalan cities and the local communities.
While NEDF has proven itself for 46 years, the challenge remains on how the foundation will continue to be relevant in changing times, its chairman, Ramon Ponce de Leon, said.*
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