It’s Wednesday and it’s a rainy morning. Forecast says it is due to the Low Pressure Area spotted near the province of Surigao. It worried me a bit because I’m scheduled to fly back to Manila tomorrow. Nonetheless, no rain will stop me in doing today’s field visit.
Accompanying me are Leyte Provincial Planning Development officers (PPDO) Engr. Ellen Gavina and Engr. Danny Parayno.
As recommended by the Leyte team during the preparatory meeting, we first visited the Municipality of Javier, a fourth class municipality. When we arrived at the municipal building of Javier I was introduced to Engr. Fernando Sarile, Javier’s Municipal Planning Development Officer (MPDO). Engr. Sarile is the program manager of the Agrarian Reform Communities Program (ARCP) in Javier.
Engr. Sarile talked about how the ARCP projects are planned and implemented in the municipality of Javier. According to him, the planning of projects is done at the barangay level. MPDO’s goal is to assess the needs of the community through barangay consultation. “Ginagawa naming project yung sinasabi nilang kailangan nila sa community”, (Projects as implemented based on the needs of the community) says Engr. Sarile. The ARCP projects are what they call as “priority projects” reflected in the Comprehensive Development Plan (CDP). The CDP is a multisectoral development plan composed of institutional, economic, social, and environment programs in the Municipality. Engr. Sarile believes that these ARCP projects are beneficial to the community.
Engr. Sarile reiterated the importance of barangay planning especially for the planning of infrastructure projects citing the irrigation or water community system. “Tinitignan namin yung mga hazard prone areas, pati yung water reservoir na pwedeng maging source” (We are looking at hazard prone areas, as well as the best water source). He further added “importante yung barangay consultation kasi yung planning konektado” (barangay consultation is important in the planning). He emphasized the importance of the coordination among barangays in the planning of the projects as essential in the assessment of needs, implementation of project, and ensuring environmental safeguards. “What’s happening in the upland community is affecting the communities in the lowland and vice versa,” says Engr. Sarile. They see these steps as commensurate to climate change adaptation. Furthermore, the municipal convergence also has an active role to the planning of these projects. A municipal convergence is a unified planning strategy for sustainable rural development adapted from the National Convergence Initiative (NCI). The municipal convergence is composed of the different municipal government sectors headed by the municipal mayor.
There are three (3) ARCP components implemented in Javier– Community Driven Development (CDD), Agri-Enterprise Development (A-ED), and infrastructure. These components are subdivided into six (6) ARCP sub-projects.
CDD projects are usually trainings and seminars on agricultural farming. Agriculture is the main livelihood in the municipality. Other CDD projects include capacity building of the Agrarian Reform Beneficiary Organization(s) (ARBO) to help them prepare for their Agri-Enterprise Development projects. A-ED projects usually include the market of agricultural products and implementation of other techniques in agriculture such as organic farming. Farm-to-Market Roads (FMR) and Irrigation systems (community water system) are the main Infrastructure projects in Javier. We visited the two (2) FMRs and Irrigation system in Barangay San Sotero.
Engr. Gavina talks about the connection of the different projects in the Municipality. CDDs are very important in transferring the technical know-hows of agricultural farming and the marketing strategies of the communities’ agricultural products (rice and vegetables), which are implemented in the Agri-Enterprise Development program. FMRs are essential in the transport of the communities’ agricultural products in the different municipalities in Leyte as well as in neighbouring provinces. FMRs are constructed to ensure the accessibility of the community to other services such as schools, health centers, and police. In my previous blog, the Municipality of Javier was considered by the ARCP regional program officers as the best ARCP site in Eastern Visayas because of the presence of the different projects stated above.
According to Engr. Gavina, the Municipality of Javier was once a “sleeping municipality” for twenty (20) years. The “curse” was only stopped through the leadership of their current mayor Sandy Javier, also known as the owner of the fast growing food chain in the Philippines Andok’s. Engr. Sarile said that it was also because of Mayor Javier’s political will that drove these projects on a fast phase of implementation. “Wala kaming bukas kung magtrabaho, gusto ni Mayor laging kahapon o ngayon lang.” They added that the initiative of their Mayor to help his “kababayans” is also instrumental in the implementation of ARCP projects in the municipality. Engr. Gavina asserted that Javier is the most improved municipality in Leyte.
The interconnection of the different ARCP sub-projects in the municipality of Javier only shows a model of how projects translate to livelihood opportunities for the community. “Bringing livelihood to the community” is actually the end goal of the ARCP as discussed by the National Deputy Coordinator Herman Ongkiko during our meeting at the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) national office last December 4, 2014.
Having all said, definitely the municipality of Javier has reached its touchdown. I’ve learned a lot from my short visit in Javier. I’m sure that the experiences they shared with me will help in building the narrative in the importance of tracking adaptation finance in the Philippines.