Davao Norte set to regain human development setback
By Noel Baguio
Davao City (26 June) -- It's a matter of turning failures into opportunities.
Rather than being disheartened by the sad performance of the province during his three-year hiatus from politics in 2004, Governor Rodolfo Del Rosario quickly mobilized reforms in governance upon his return, pursuing his RDR WHEELS agenda to help the province rise up where it dismally fell.
The 2008/2009 Philippine Human Development Report (PHDR) covering the period 2004 to 2006, ranked Davao del Norte 33rd in terms of human development index (HDI) among all the provinces in the country. This status put the province one rank behind from its performance in the 2003 HDI.
To the uninitiated, the one-notch slide may seem to be just an ordinary setback. But, the negative turnaround is a big deal to Gov. Del Rosario, who has put every effort to provide better quality of life to his people, while attaining the vision for Davao del Norte to be a premier province.
In year 2000, when Del Rosario was yet on his transition as a first termer governor and with his development programs still in their infancy, Davao del Norte ranked 52nd then in the human development report.
However, after the full-swing implementation of the minimum basic needs (MBN) approach to development, along with other breakthrough programs and projects that he initiated, the province leapfrogged to 32nd spot in the 2003 HDI, outpacing 20 other Provinces.
Confident that the momentum of the province shall be sustained, DeI Rosario relinquished his post as governor when he responded to President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's call for him to be a member of her cabinet in 2004.
But, the governor was disappointed by the broken vows of his successor, who did not pursue the innovative programs and projects that he started. So, he was not surprised at all with the bad performance of the province.
"I had a good guess that we shall fare badly in the 2006 HDI," he told development experts and planners, regional executives and guests during the recent Mindanao Launch of the 2008/2009 PHDR at the Grand Men Seng Hotel in Davao City.
"Unfortunately, nawala lahat yung naumpisahan nating mga programa that intend to uplift the living condition of our people. So, that caused the drop in the performance of Davao del Norte in so far as the HDI, among other development indices, is concerned," he later told the media.
He blamed the debacle to the suspension of the P6M-worth "Philhealth Para sa Masa" program from 2004 to 2007; the mass termination of casual employees especially identified with him, who have been to numerous trainings; the suspension of the Provincial Women Development Center; the deliberate "saving" of program funds in the guise of austerity measures and mass mobilization of the same months before the election season; and, the rule of "kamag-anak incorporated", which is a shadowy network that weakened the established organizational structure of the province.
Consequently, aside from the drop in HDI, Davao del Norte also slid from the 30th to 35th rank in Good Governance Index (GGI). It further registered a large downward adjustment in terms of its gender-related development index (GDI), going as far as the 49th rank, 16 paces below its 2003 position.
The HDI is a summary measure of human development that seeks to determine the average achievement in a country in three basic dimensions of human development, namely: a long and healthy life, knowledge, and a decent standard of living. Meaning, it is the outcomes that matter rather than incomes. At the same time as the GDI is a composite indicator of human development that adjusts the HDI for the inequality in achievements between men and women.
Realizing the mediocre performance of the province, Del Rosario immediately mobilized reforms in governance upon his return to the Capitol in mid-2007, instituting measures that hastened the healing of wounds of division.
Some of the reforms included retaining the politically "colored" employees, even the hardest of the hardliners; establishing the Project NOBLE, or No Barangay Left Behind that ensures every barangay shall have a fair share of the provincial budget with P1M allocation for each; revival of the PhilHealth program; and, the holding of People's Day, a one-stop-shop public service every Monday.
During the People's Day, the governor and the Capitol executives personally attend to the queries and concerns of the people from all walks of life - from health needs, legal needs, to requests of infra project, among others. Last year, the governor brought the People's Day at the doorstep of the LGUs serving among others, PhilHealth Card distribution, medical, dental and surgical outreach, legal consultations, and agri-services that benefited more than 40,000 mostly indigent constituents.
"This, no doubt will boost efficiency rate," Del Rosario said, as he is very much hopeful the implementation of the Universal PhilHealth program and the reorganizational plan of the province this year will definitely help Davao del Norte not only regain, but surpass its previous HDI position.
"I am hopeful that by next year or by the time they come up with the next human development report, we shall be regaining our position, if not surpass our previous status in so far as the human development index is concerned," he said.
He further told the media the opening of the Talaingod – Bukidnon Road next year will substantially bring a tremendous turnaround in the performance of the province in terms of both human and economic development. (CIO-Tagum) [top]