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PIA Press Release

Local groups sign Kalahi accord

by Dante E. Coloma

Cagayan de Oro City (17 January) -- REPRESENTATIVES from local business, private sector and non-government organizations signed a commitment of support for the Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan (Kalahi), the government’s anti-poverty program, in ceremonies at the Dynasty Court Hotel in Cagayan de Oro City, Jan. 12.

The signing was on offshoot of the Kabisig ng Kalahi forum, which was keynoted by National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC) Undersecretary Susan Abaya, along with Regional Director Casimira V. Balandra of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), and Regional Kalahi Convergence Groups (RKCG-10) Chair Jerome S. Soldevilla.

The participants included representatives from chambers of commerce, local chapters of the Philippine Institute of Civil Engineers (PICE), Philippine Institute of Certified Public Accountants (PICPA), rural banks, cooperatives, civil society groups, NGOs, and multinational corporations, among others.

In her speech, Undersecretary Abaya appealed to the private sector to “give a little more” to efforts in reducing poverty as she gave a briefing on the Kalahi and the National Pro-Poor Agenda.

Abaya said aside from poverty reduction, Kalahi also aims to improve governance and empower communities.

Its framework is the convergence of services from the government, private sector, civil society groups, the community and the target barangays.

Abaya also pointed out details in President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s 10-point agenda that are ideal venues for the private sector and civic groups to help in the fight against poverty.

Primary among these is microfinance, she said.

Abaya observed that microfinancing has evolved from simply providing credit and capital into extending holistic training modules, such as gender empowerment, social development, values formation, and the like to borrowers.

She added that NAPC is committed to operationalizing and adding resources to the People’s Development Trust Fund (PDTF) that emphasizes the capacity building of microfinance institutions and their clientele.

Loans to small and medium enterprises will be tripled from P3.8 billion by the year 2010, she further said.

Abaya also said other potential venues for convergence of services are developing local poverty indicator systems, ensuring access to power and water in the next six years, providing low-cost medicine for the poor, and strengthening education and agriculture down to the grassroots level.

Director Balandra, meanwhile, gave a regional poverty situation situationer vis-a-vis the 10-Point Legacy Program.

She highlighted Region 10’s robust economic performance being the highest contributor to Mindanao’s economic growth in 2003. Where other regions in the island contributed an average of 16% gross regional domestic product, Region 10 gave more than 27%.

Yet despite this, 36% of families in Region 10 remained poor, she said, adding most of them are found in remote and rural communities.

Balandra called on the business and private sector to support poverty reduction endeavors at the local level.

STEAG State Power Inc. (SSPI) and Gawad Kalinga representatives, afterwards, shared their experiences in corporate social responsibility and poverty alleviation, respectively.

SSPI has established a 210-megawatt coal-fired power plant in 2003 at the Phividec Industrial Estate in the municipalities of Villanueva and Tagoloan in Misamis Oriental. It is projected to be fully operational by end-2006.

Aside from generating new jobs during construction, SSPI also spearheaded several livelihood development and skills enhancement projects for Villanueva residents to increase income-generating opportunities.

It also assisted the community through skills training for local workers, livelihood and development for relocated families, like hand-made papermaking and garden-making projects.

It likewise undertook environmental programs to help preserve the surrounding area.

Gawad Kalinga, meanwhile, shared their experiences in providing quality housing to the poor in the region, notably the 32 units built in partnership with SSPI at the Phividec relocation site.

The forum was capped by signing of the Commitment of Support, with the signatories pledging financial, technical, logistical, and consultancy assistance in the implementation of the government’s pro-poor program.

Despite the limited attandance, RKCG-10 Chair Soldevilla said this would be the first of many fora to be done around the region to drum up support for Kalahi. (PIA-10) [top]

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