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Barugo leads legislative advocacy, champs CDD sustainability

With the collective action of the citizens of Barugo, both the municipal and barangay Local Government Unit have approved policies for its sub-projects’ operation and maintenance and as sustainable mechanism for CDD adoption.

Our role to advocate and uphold Community-Driven Development is not just confined within the signed documents stipulated on our Memorandum of Agreement with Kalahi-CIDSS and DSWD. It is beyond contracts and counterparts. It is about Barugo’s sustainable future. Kalahi-CIDSS is about the people. It is the people.” – Barugo Mayor Macel Avestruz pointed out  during her presentation of LGU Barugo’s Community Driven Development (CDD) Good Practices.

In 2016, the Local Government Unit (LGU) of Barugo won the National Award as Best Municipality implementing Kalahi-CIDSS, besting fourteen LGUs from other regions.

But accepting the Bayani Ka award during the ceremony was not the highlight of their victory. Their success became more meaningful after that.


 The Beginning of CDD Adoption

The Kalahi-CIDSS story of Barugo started in April 2012. A 4th class municipality with 37 barangays, the town was chosen to be a recipient of the Kalahi-CIDSS program through the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC).

Although Mayor Macel Avestruz was not the municipal mayor back then, the development objective of Kalahi-CIDSS was not new to her.

“I am familiar of Kalahi-CIDSS not because I am the the wife of the former Local Chief Executive of Barugo. But as citizen of our municipality, I personally saw how the program achieved its milestones in empowering local communities through their involvement in the design and implementation of projects that would address their most pressing needs that would bring better services to them”, Avestuz added.

Although considered a Yolanda-hit area, heavily affected in terms of its infrastructure and economy,  Barugo proved to be a developing and resilient town which embraced CDD  and its participatory governance and community empowerment principles.

In Barugo, every group and sector recogizes their roles, and values their shared responsibilities as guardians of CDD. This became the reason why it is one the first municpalities in the region to replicate the approach and harmonizes it to their local development processes.

Hence, the Municipal and Barangay LGU have intensified its provision of technical, administrative and management assistance in the implementation of Kalahi-CIDSS in  barangays especially during the sub-project construction.

For years, the LGU has also ensured the conduct of monitoring schemes by strengthening its Operations and Maintenance (O&M) Plan and the implementation of its O&M mechanisms. This was supported through the passage and enforcement of local ordinances and policies that  provide efficient and effective O&M towards sustainability. The BLGU also allocated funds exclusively for O&M of all Kalahi-CIDSS sub-projects.

At present, the existing and accredited Community-Based Organizations (CBOs) formed through Kalahi-CIDSS initiative are now part of the decision-making process at the barangay level where in they regularly sit in the Barangay Development Council, specifically under the Barangay Sub-Project committee.

In terms of the community empowerment objective of Kalahi-CIDSS, LGU Barugo supported the participatory governance feature of the program through the institutionalization of community assemblies. This was embraced positively by the people.

LGU Barugo adopted the Participatory Situation Analysis or the Kalahi-CIDSS’ PSA process by which the community is being consulted to ask their views and opinions on the state of their barangay, the problems that greatly affect, them and the possible solutions that would help their locality. Evident to this is the integration of priority needs of the barangay to Barugo’s Comprehensive Development Plan (CDP) for CY 2010-2016 and the recently formulated CDP for CY 2017-2023.

With the adoption of various CDD process of Kalahi-CIDSS which were already harmonized in its local planning and implemetation, LGU Barugo finally institutionalized the whole CDD mechanismm through the approval of Municipal Resolution No. 4 of 2017 by the Municipal Development Council.

The adoption of CDD in Barugo and its further institutionalization became possible because of the Barug-on. When people realize its relevance and impact in their common welfare and development, they will eventually appreciate it and demand for it”, Engr. Judith Borrel, Municipal Planning and Development Coordinator explained.

Another LGU innovation which was patterned from the CDD process is their regular Barangay Consultation Dialogue locally known as ‘Harampang’, where the Sangguniang Bayan members, Department Heads headed by the Local Chief Executive and in participation with some Non-Government Agencies, visit all 37 barangays for the conduct of barangay local dialogue. According to LGU Barugo, said activity is a transparency and accountability mechanism where they present their development thrusts, status of LGU-funded projects, updates from other agencies, and to collect feedback on the programs being implemented from community members themselves. Harampang is also an avenue for information dissemination of new programs and services being delivered by the LGU and various agencies and organizations.

Relative to the Harampang and the adopted PSA process, LGU Barugo also conducts the annual barangayan dubbed as “Serbisyo ha Barangay” where all barangays are visited for the actual delivery of basic social services such as free medical and dental mission, free registration, feeding program and trainings like disaster preparedness and safety. Through this, the LGU is able to bring government services closer to the public.

Like the Kalahi-CIDSS’ objective, Barugo also aims for Improved Local Governance. In fact, the Municipality of Barugo has made a back-to-back victory for being awarded by the Department of Interior and Local Government with the Seal of Good Housekeeping/Seal of Good Local Governance (SGLG) for year 2015, 2016 and 2017. Said recognition  only proves Barugo’s good perfomance as a  municipal government not only on financial housekeeping, but also on other areas that directly benefit the people such as social protection and disaster-risk reduction management.

“We are very proud to say that we have fully utilized the SGLG prize money from DILG for the construction of the much needed seawall in Barugo. Said project is 90-linear meter in length constructed in Barangay Minuhang which complemented the previous seawall sub-projects completed in the barangay through Kalahi-CIDSS”, Mayor Avestruz added.

With the collective action of almost all sectors in Barugo, the said municipality has accomplished 46 Kalahi-CIDSS sub-projects funded by the MCC, and a total of 65 projects were constructed and have been turned-over to communities under the NCDDP Cycles 1 to 3.

“If we are going to connect all the access roads, tirepaths, pathwalks and footbridges constructed in Barugo from MCC and NCDDP funding, we will be able to construct a highway with a total length of 830 kilometers almost linking Tacloban City and Metro Manila. It is actually 370 times the measurement of San Juanico Bridge.  This milestone became possible because of the hardwork and dedication of  5,246 Barug-on volunteers”, Mayor Avestruz proudly stated.


Bridget’s Bridge   

 If there is one story that would reflect  the perseverance of our Barug-on, it would be the story of Brgy.  Balud.

For decades, residents of Balud have been praying for a project that would connect them to mainland. The only thing that ties the 148 households to the Poblacion of Barugo is an old wooden bridge famously known as the Barawalte Bridge built for over 75 years.

One famous story in Brgy. Balud which encouraged the residents to push the prioritization of the sub-project, is the story of a mother who actually gave birth to a healthy baby girl in the middle of the old wobbly wooden bridge. The baby was later named BRIDGET who eventually became the face of Balud’s real condition.

“It was very difficult. Crossing the old Barawalte Bridige was like putting your life into great danger, worst for kids and elders. I almost lost  my baby girl. Thank God she was safe.”, Armelinda Lozada disclosed in an interview.

The people’s solution was the construction of a footbridge through Kalahi-CIDSS’ project implementation.

This particular story and the collective struggle of the community members of Balud in order to access the mainland of  Barugo proper were the primary reasons why the community harmoniously worked for the planning and implementation of the sub-project which they consider a blessing to their families, most especially their children.

“Residents of our village were very eager to be part of the implementation and construction of our footbridge because it was our need. Finally we will be able to answer our major problem”, said Jebet Quintana, a Kalahi-CIDSS Brgy. Representative Team member.

Today, 700 residents in Balud are no longer using the old wooden bridge. Due to the construction of the new 160 linear meter footbridge which was completed in March 2016, farmers and fishermen can easily trade their produce and sell their catch to the nearest market. Aside from the positive impact on the community’s industry, students can already go to school without any difficulty while parents will no longer worry for the safety of their children.

“The Kalahi-CIDSS had greatly contributed to participatory governance in our barangay through community organizing and inclusive decision making. Now, almost everyone is willing to join the barangay assembly”, Rogelio Claros, Brgy. Balud Chairperson explained.

With the collective action of the Barug-on and their compassion towards their community and fellow citizens, Barugo is one of the Best LGUs which topped the CDD implementation municpal ranking for 2017.


The Bayani Ka Responsibility

Although winning the National Bayani Ka Award branded the LGU Barugo as a CDD Champion, the municipality went beyond its responsibility as a partner CDD implementer of DSWD Kalahi-CIDSS. Today, Barugo is already a CDD Ambassador in Eastern Visayas, pushing for its legislation and institutionalization across all municipalities in the region.

 “The awards are secondary. In fact, we were not thinking of it. The award should be given to our modern day heroes, our Community Volunteers and the Kalahi CIDSS personnel. So, when we were informed that we got the Regional and National Bayani Ka Award for the Best Municipality Category,  we literally offered the award to our community volunteers while advocating for CDD. We actually brought the plaque to every barangay so that all BLGUs, volunteers and residents would have a glimpse of the result of their sacrifices and commitment”, Mayor Avestruz shared.

LGU staff of Barugo have committed to work on the promotion of CDD sustainability.

For over a year now, LGU Barugo has been one of the lead municipalities up for CDD legislative advocacy. Specifically, Mayor Macel Avestruz served as a Resource Person during CDD Sustainability Planning Workshops for LGUs and her fellow Local Chief Executives. Barugo also hosted a series of knowledge sharing and learning visits showcasing their good implementation practices and success stories to other members of the Municipal Inter-Agency Committee from other provinces.

“To my fellow Local Chief Executives, let us not be satisfied by the old saying that government service is slow service. Let us raise the bar of government service through CDD”, Mayor Avestruz emphasized during her speech in one of the sustainability workshops conducted by DSWD Kalahi-CIDSS.

As of December  31, 2017, a total of 5,787 sub-projects has been completed in the region, with a total fund disbursement of Php 4.3 Billion from NCDDP Cycles 1 to 3 and funding from the Incentive Grant and the Tier 2 Implementation for selected champion municipalities.

Because of these sub-projects and the participatory processess and activities conducted, the program has already engaged a total of 198,574 community volunteers who were highly trained, leading to the successful implementation of their identified intervention and community projects which they can call their own.

LGU Barugo Staff headed by Mayor Macel Avestruz together with DSWD Regional Director Resty Macuto and Undersecretary Malou Turalde-Jarabe and Region VIII winners during the National Kalahi-CIDSS Bayani Ka Awarding Ceremony held in August 2017.

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