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KALAHI – Kalayaan Project continues

In 2005, 65 Barangays in Caraga were identified as priorities for the Kapit Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan (KALAHI) Para sa Kalayaan Barangays Program (KBP). Under this program, twenty nine (29) of the first batch of implementation were completed in 2007 consisting of 13 potable water system and 16 school building projects covering 23 barangays in the provinces of Agusan del Sur, Surigao del Sur and Norte.

The second batch of implementation started in August 2008 with the revalidation of needs in the remaining 42 barangays. However, actual project implementation came to a full swing only on February 10, 2009 with the groundbreaking ceremony for the Health Center in Barangay Quezon, Surigao City followed by groundbreaking ceremonies for other projects on February 27 Health Center Project in Panatao, Claver, Surigao del Norte; and, Health Center, Day Care Center and Farm to Market Road Projects in Baleguian, Jabonga, Agusan del Norte.

The Municipal Government of Claver represented by the Honorable Vice-Mayor Gokiangkee expressed her earnest appreciation to the national government agencies for addressing the needs of the people of the barangay. Barangay Chairman Ariel Taer called for everybody’s support in the maintenance and upkeep of the health center as its sustainability will become the barangay’s responsibility.

In the afternoon of February 27, 2009, the groundbreaking ceremony for the 3 projects in Baleguian, Jabonga was spearheaded by Municipal Mayor Glicerio Monton and Barangay Chairman Rodolfo Morada.

Mayor Monton acknowledged the support of the national government, especially the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), in providing small but holistic infrastructure to their municipality. He also expressed gratitude for the blessings they received from KALAHI Kalayaan and Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (CIDDS) program as well. As the father of the barangay, Brgy. Chairman Morada called for everybody’s support to effectively maintain the facilities.

The AFP, as a major partner in the KBP, was represented by LTC Cristocal Zaragoza, Commanding Office, 30th Infantry Brigade and Major Wenefredo Arceño, Commanding Officer, 544th Engineering Construction Battallion (ECB) 52nd Engineering Brigade (EB) which is responsible for project implementation.

LTC Zaragoza was thankful for the presence of the people from the target communities. He was grateful for the warm welcome by the LGUs. He emphasized that the communities, local governments and the AFP should work together to fight insurgency problems in the different areas of the country.

The KBP is implemented to show the people that in any development effort, the AFP is always there. He also advocated for support to the government’s new program for rebel returnees, the Social Integration Program (SIP). Under SIP, the Philippine Government through the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP) campaigns for the reintegration of insurgents into the mainstream of society and their return to the fold of the law through various government programs. Besides the different interventions offered under SIP, the AFP is actively immersing in the communities through the KBP and other programs to erase the wrong notion of fear for the military.

On the other hand, Major Arceño supported the statements of LTC Zaragoza and added that the Engineering Brigade is the most visible partner in development interventions at the communities.

As a concerted effort of the regional line agencies through the Regional KALAHI Convergence Group (RKCG), LGUs and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), the KALAHI program aims to alleviate poverty in the communities. The KBP complements the KALAHI program in the communities threatened by insurgency. Government interventions converge in these communities to ensure the government’s visibility.

Representing the RKCG Secretariat, Ms. Jazmin Berido of NEDA 13 emphasized that the projects in the communities concretize the partnership of various sectors and that the RKCG is always there to support the communities and serve as channel for other assistance to respond to their needs. (Archie Guzman, NEDA-13/PIA-Caraga)

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