DIARIES FROM THE FIELD | Pursuing self-reliance and socio-economic development in the Cordillera

By CHARMANGE RIMANDO/CDPC
www.nordis.net

For more than 30 years, the Center for Development Programs of the Cordillera strived and proved that an active and organized people’s participation is the key to achieving holistic development of communities. Importantly, the institution took this endeavor upholding the preferential service to the poor and disadvantaged, the respect of people’s rights and protection of the environment.

Members and officials of CDPC had a complete view of the milestones reaped through this principled service during its general assembly last June 29 in Baguio City with the presentation of the results from the internal evaluation of the 2017-2018 multi-sectoral and food security programs. Campaigns and dialogue characterize the advocacy of CDPC for the period evaluated.

Relating to the government was among the remarkable endeavors of CDPC in the last two years. CDPC engaged and worked with four national line agencies to facilitate services for neglected and far-flung communities in the Cordillera. Its network exerted much effort in cooperating under  the services of progressive cabinet secretaries: Gina Lopez of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Judy Taguiwalo of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Rafael Mariano of the Department of Agriculture (DA) and Liza Maza of the National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC).

Among the significant partnership was the facilitation of CDPC, as the lead organization, in the series of workshops by NAPC that resulted to the policy document on ‘Road Map on the Conservation and Rehabilitation of Rice Terraces in the Cordillera. Unfortunately, after the progressives in the Duterte cabinet ended their service, these constructive engagements ended and the foreseen achievements aborted.

The center’s multi-sectoral advocacy focused on emerging policy changes that bore an impact on the right to food and health. As such, CDPC advocated against the following issues: jeepney phase-out, unhampered large scale mining while indiscriminately banning small-scale traditional mining, contractualization, unimpeded rice importation and military occupation of communities. It also campaigned for higher wage for workers, free and efficient irrigation service and provision of support to rehabilitate and protect the rice terraces. Some of the initiatives for these causes generated support from local government officials, other institutions and organizations.

Among the noteworthy result of the network’s local lobbying is awareness and concern raised in the Baguio City Council on the vilification of activist organizations in the city. This resulted in the public apology of the Philippine National Police chief in the city and the legislators to work an ordinance prohibiting such action. In Mountain Province, local government officials issued public statements prohibiting the occupation of military troops in civilian homes, schools, churches and all places where villagers mingle.

Initiatives and supported activities of the CDPC contributed to the national campaigns in partnership with Alyansa dagiti Pesante iti Taeng Kordilyera (Peasant Alliance in the Cordillera Homeland), the Community Health, Education Services and Training in the Cordillera (CHEASTCORE), and the Cordillera Youth Center. These include the passage of the Free Irrigation Act (Republic Act 10969), the Mental Health Law, and the opposition against the lowering of the minimum age of criminal responsibility.

During the gathering, the members saw more of the advances in the socio-economic programs of the office. Among those shown to update and solicit more ideas on possible improvements for the food security program were the potable water systems, fruit trees, and farm tools dispersal, rehabilitation of communal irrigation systems with high-density polyethylene pipes and rice mills.

On the program to achieve the people’s right to health, CDPC through its health and sanitation program with CHESTCORE was able to provide health services around 2,000 individuals.

CDPC also contributed and participated in the Serve the People Brigade with the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA), providing relief packs to communities devastated by Super Typhoons Ompong and Rosita in 2018.

Moving forward, the CDPC recomposed and reinvigorated the Board of Trustees with new members. The general membership who attended the assembly also approved the initial preparations made by the management committee for the program of action for the next three-year program (2021-2023). # nordis.net

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