Baguio City – Top officials in the province of Benguet and this city encouraged fellow local chief executives in the Cordillera region to avail of the programs offered by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) during the Leaders’ Fellowship conducted here.

“When I was a mayor, we did not have anything like these,” Benguet Governor Nestor Fongwan shared before a crowd of Cordilleran mayors and other public officials.

For nine years, Fongwan served as the mayor of La Trinidad, the capital town of Benguet Province, before becoming governor. “These are opportunities [DSWD programs and services] that should not be wasted,” he added.

Fongwan, in particular, urged his fellow public officials at the municipal level to avail of the Kapit-bisig Laban sa Kahirapan Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services – National Community-Driven Development Program (Kalahi—CIDSS), one of the poverty alleviation programs of the government implemented through the DSWD.

The Benguet official singled out the Community Enhanced Activity Cycle (CEAC), the program’s process of implementation, as an excellent tool in answering the needs of the community.

“Malalaman mo kung ano talaga ang kailangan ng mga tao sa grassroots (You will really learn what are the needs of your people at the grassroots),” Fongwan said.

He further vowed to push all Benguet mayors to venture into the Kalahi—CIDSS which requires the local government units to provide a twenty (20) percent counterpart in the funding of its sub-projects.

As of February this year, seven (7) out of the thirteen (13) municipalities of Benguet are engaged in the program namely Atok, Bakun, Buguias, Kabayan, Kapangan, Kibungan, and Tublay are engaged in the program.

Meanwhile, Baguio City Mayor Mauricio Domogan also shared the same enthusiasm stating the Kalahi-CIDSS, along with other programs of DSWD, can greatly help in alleviating poverty.

“If only Baguio City is qualified, then we would have availed (of Kalahi-CIDSS),” Domogan shared. He said less poverty in the provinces near the Summer Capital can trickle into the city since majority of the workers here are from the countryside.

Not listed under the poorest areas in the country, Baguio City in the implementation of Kalahi-CIDSS but the city is engaged in other DSWD programs such as the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, Sustainable Livelihood Program, and Social Pension, among others.

Baguio City is also the only area in the region that has already conducted the second round of household assessment through the Listahanan or the National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction (NHTS-PR).

The city is currently on its validation phase of the initial list of poor households.

Fongwan and Domogan were among the public official who attended the Kalahi-CIDSS Leaders’ Fellowship which aims to provide the local chief executives a venue to share their experiences and practices in the implementation of DSWD programs and services.

On the other hand, DSWD OIC-Regional Director Janet P. Armas expressed gratitude for the support proclaimed by the local officials. “We hope that through the sharing of our LCEs, other public officials will be enjoined to engage with the Kalahi-CIDSS and other DSWD programs for the benefit of the people below poverty line,” Armas said.

“The political will of the LCEs (local chief executives) is indeed a critical key in the successful implementation of the program. Without the help of our partners in the LGUs, we will not be able to assist our communities towards the development that they have long been waiting for,” Armas added.

Fifty municipalities in the Cordillera region are currently benefitting from the Kalahi-CIDSS which is funded by the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) through the Millennium Challenge Account-Philippines (MCA-P) and the World Bank.# DSWD-CAR, SOCIAL MARKETING UNIT, KARLSTON S. LAPNITEN

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