DAVAO ORIENTAL – Some 2,000 residents in the far-flung villages of Taocanga and Rizal in the municipality of Manay have benefited in the recently launched outreach program dubbed as Nagkakaisang Lingkod-Bayan ng Davao Oriental Barangay Outreach Caravan on November 25, 2016.
A provincial government-initiated program, this outreach caravan pools resources of various agencies and stakeholders to deliver their various goods and services closer to the people especially those living in geographically isolated and depressed areas.
Friday’s activity saw the broadened partnership of the provincial government with national government agencies, the municipal local government unit, and non-government organizations in bringing services ranging from medical and dental checkups, distribution of food packs and school supplies, legal consultations, provision of seedlings, and conduct of lectures on various important social issues, among many others.
Governor Nelson L. Dayanghirang, who strongly pushed for the program, said he wants to make the government’s presence felt by the people, especially those in marginalized communities that have long been affected by armed conflict and prolonged impact of abject poverty due to lack of opportunities.
“This program is an opportunity for the government to make a difference in the lives of people. This program is tailored to meet the basic needs of these most desperate communities that are seldom reached by the government,” said Governor Dayanghirang.
A spinoff from the recently conducted ARENA (Association of Regional Executives of National Agencies) Serbisyo Caravan in Barangay Binondo in Baganga town and Family Day and Medical Mission in Sitio Sangab in the mountain village of Pichon in Caraga town, the program has been touted to become a regular program here in the province set to be held at least every two months, giving priority to the most marginalized barangays.
A WAY FOR PEACE
Working closely with the military, the outreach caravan was conceptualized as a way of promoting peace by reaching out to the province’s most destitute communities suffering from the ravages of poverty and insurgencies.
701st Deputy Brigade Commander of the Philippine Army Col. Rodolfo Lavadia, who represented Col. Bienvenido Datuin, Jr., highlighted the importance of addressing the needs of the people, especially those in impoverished far-flung communities not only as a means to promote peace but also in ushering progress.
67th Infantry Battalion Commander, Lt. Col. Michele Anayron, describes this initiative as an effective way of sustaining and reinforcing the gains achieved by their Peace and Development Outreach Program.
The 701st Brigade of the Philippine Army, through its troops in the 67th Infantry Battalion which have been working at the grassroots level, has helped push the conduct of the activity. Having a firm grasp and understanding of the plight of the people in the hinterlands through the Peace and Development Outreach Program (PDOP), the military has recommended the priority areas for the caravan based on the Needs Assessment Survey they have conducted. The Philippine Army said the villages of Taocanga and Rizal were chosen as the pilot villages for the program because they are among the vulnerable areas that need the most attention from the government.
While the program primarily addresses short-term needs, the Provincial Government is working its way to address the communities’ long-term requirements, particularly in the implementation of more development projects in the communities touted to create impact in the lives of the people.
Based on the survey, the major pressing problem that residents face in these two villages is the terrible road condition. Situated 26 kilometers away from the town proper and can only be reached through a rugged dirt road, the villages of Taocanga and Rizal belong to the Geographically Isolated and Disadvantaged Areas (GIDAs) communities with a marginalized population and physically and socio-economically separated from the mainstream society.
Addressing this, Governor Dayanghirang together with First District Representative Corazon N. Malanyaon have been pushing for the road concreting project here which was already started this year. By allocating a yearly budget for this project, residents who are mostly corn and abaca farmers would soon easily transport their produce to the market, thus promoting socio-economic progress in the local community. Moreover, the said road project can also help boost eco-tourism because of the presence of Lake Diomaboc which is now one of the top ecotourism destinations in the province.
Camilo Budta, a 52-year-old resident who was one of those who availed of free medical checkup, medicines and rice assistance, said that he is happy that government services have reached their barangay. “I appreciate that the government is coming here because it saves us money and time,” he said, adding that the fare for going to the town proper would cost them P600 each, a highly prohibitive cost for them.
“Seeing everybody here is truly overwhelming. Through this program, we felt the government’s sincere service,” said another resident.
“None of these interventions came single-handedly,” said Governor Dayanghirang, noting the deepening collaboration of the provincial government with national line agencies and non-government organizations in offering various services to the people through the outreach caravan. The activity saw the pooled forces of the national agencies and provincial and municipal local government units delivering their respective services to the people.
The Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office has distributed 2,000 food packs and conducted feeding program to Day Care pupils.
The Provincial Health Office has distributed mosquito nets and conducted medical and dental services. They also provided free eye checkup and reading eyeglasses including free medicines and dental kits, and distributed toilet bowls.
The Department of Agrarian Reform, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples have also conducted free legal consultations particularly on land disputes.
The Provincial Agriculture Office handed over planting materials of various crops such as corn and vegetable seeds, fertilizers, and farm tools. The Environment and Natural Resources Office has distributed various tree seedlings while the Provincial Veterinarian’s Office have conducted information drive on animal health and livestock disease control. The Philippine Coconut Authority facilitated profiling of coconut farmer’s registry system. The Department of Trade and Industry have conducted orientation lecture on its programs and projects.
The Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office has conducted information drive on disaster preparedness enabling their community to become resilient to natural disasters. The Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace Process has conducted an orientation on the peace talks.
Aside from assisting the military in security, the Davao Oriental Provincial Police Office provided school supplies and kits and conducted an information drive on anti-illegal drugs and provided free haircut.
The Global Impact Philippines Foundation – a faith-based international non-government organization, has also participated in the caravan. The group aims to empower the people though their advocacy against human trafficking, of which the marginalized sector often falls victim.
The Land Transportation Office conducted advocacy campaign on vehicle licensing and registration. The Department of Public Works and Highways, Province Engineer’s Office, and the Davao Oriental Electric Cooperative conducted status diagnosis on the infrastructure, roads and electricity in the areas.
The Philippine Army spearheaded the provision of security for the whole duration of the activity as well as transportation of people to the activity area. Moreover, their medical team provided free medical consultations and dental services to the residents. By Karen Lou Deloso, Photo by Eden Jhan Licayan