National anti-poverty program still top-down – social welfare official

MALAYBALAY CITY  (MindaNews/22 October) —  The National Anti-Poverty Commission’s anti-poverty program is still a top-down development program that disregards the local government structures, Arsenio Alagenio, president-elect of the Association of Local Social Welfare and Development Officers in the Philippines.

Alagenio, Bukidnon’s provincial social welfare and development officer, said the government’s anti poverty program needs to be localized so that local governments take part in the planning, management, supervision, and monitoring.

Alagenio was reacting to NAPC Sec. Joel Rocamora’s statement last month during the conference on dubbed “Pathways to High and Inclusive Growth” organized by the Asian Institute of Management that beginning January 2012 the NAPC will start pushing for the localization of its anti-poverty strategies.

“You cannot sustain your anti-poverty strategy program without participation of the local government units and the poor sectors,” Rocamora said, quoting his discussion with Social Welfare and Development Secretary Corazon Soliman.

Rocamora said they want to prioritize about 600 towns around the country with a “major number” from Mindanao based on the magnitude of their poverty incidence. He was referring to provinces in the Caraga Region and the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao.

Alagenio said now it’s too centralized with minimum consultation with the local stakeholders.  He added lack of consultation makes it weak.

“Now it is centralized at the NAPC. But they cannot just plan from above. It must be from bottom up,” he added.

He said there must be alignment also of the government’s livelihood programs. He added that the national government’s programs, like the local counterparts, are also “too politicized.”

“If we want to have impact, these programs should be localized from the national, down to the barangay level (with consultations from bottom up),” he added.

Rocamora added that one of their thrusts is to focus on the “poorest regions in the country.”

“We are crafting a poverty reduction strategy that locates poverty reduction within economic development planning, and bridges national and local poverty planning,” the NAPC head said. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)