RDC-12 pushes creation of local gov’t alliances

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 22 Sept) – The Regional Development Council (RDC) of Region 12 is pushing for the establishment of more local government alliances as it moves to fast-track the development of various marginalized localities in the region.

Arturo Valero, acting RDC-12 chairperson, said they are working on the replication of the experiences of two active local alliances – AVLADA and PALMA+PB – to help spur growth and development in other areas in the region.

AVLADA or the Allah Valley Landscape Development Alliance is an environmental partnership that involves 11 municipalities and the provincial governments of South Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat.

PALMA+PB stands for the towns of Pigcawayan, Alamada, Libungan, Midsayap, Aleosan, Pikit, and Banisilan in North Cotabato that formed a development alliance about a decade ago.

PALMA+PB Alliance and AVLADA were recipients of the prestigious Galing Pook Award in 2007 and 2009, respectively.

“We’re currently drawing lessons from these two alliances, through some of their success stories, for possible replication in other parts of the region,” Valero told MindaNews.

Also known as Soccsksargen, the region comprises the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, North Cotabato and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong Kidapawan and Cotabato.

Valero said that aside from AVLADA and PALMA+PB, there are other existing local government alliances in the region but were considered dormant or inactive.

He specifically cited the Jose Abad Santos-Glan-Sarangani Cooperation Triangle; Maasim-Kiamba-Maitum Industrial Triangle in Sarangani; and, the Lebak Kalamansig and Palimbang Alliance in Sultan Kudarat.

The official said they will use the AVLADA and PALMA+PB in the revival of the three inactive alliance and in the creation of more similar groupings.

Through the creation of local government alliances, Valero said underdeveloped areas in the region will have an opportunity to develop through the help of their neighbors, especially those that are more developed and progressive.

“That’s what happened to some areas in PALMA+PB that are considered as quite behind in terms of development. Members of the alliance grew together through bayanihan and the big brother, small brother concept in development,” he said.

AVLADA was created by the local governments of South Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat as an offshoot of a major flashflood that hit the Allah River on September 6, 1995 that left 53 people dead and devastated millions worth of infrastructure, agricultural crops and properties.

AVLADA’s programs and strategies include capability and institution building, information and education campaign, remote sensing – GIS Mapping, community mapping for barangay development, riparian zone re-vegetation, rainforestation and upstream resource management and sub-watershed adoption and forestland co-management.

Supported by the Canadian International Development Agency, the alliance is currently developing an “ecotourism highway” within the watershed areas of the Allah River.

The PALMA+PB Alliance was initially established in 2002 by the municipalities of Pigcawayan, Alamada, Libungan, Midsayap and Aleosan. The towns of Pikit and Banisilan joined the grouping years later.

Through the alliance, the seven local governments pooled their infrastructure equipment, machinery, personnel and expertise to collectively work on road-building projects in the area at much lesser costs.

Alliance members also pursued joint initiatives on governance, environment, socio-economic, peace and order, among others.