Where have all the UDP lessons gone?

Blogista
By Cha Monforte

It’s now a year after the Upland Development Programme (UDP) of the Southern Philippines formally ended after seven years of advocacy, model- and lessons-drawing and implementation in six provinces which included Compostela Valley and Davao del Norte. The European Union gifted the recipient provinces with P1.08 billion grant for the special program for the uplands.

At the onset, we are missing the workaholic national co-directors Sirs Dash Indelible and Wiebe van Rij.

UDP is a unique, even exemplary programme that especially advocated for sustainable upland development in view of the givens- degraded forest and threatened watershed caused by the past and present commercial logging and illegal poaching activities as well as by slash-and-burn, the known kaingin, and the uncontoured, irresponsible farming practices in the uplands. The other given is the decades-old rural poverty.

UDP in the development model that it evolved and tested from practice takes the forest and the watershed that are usually found in the uplands as the crucial centre point needing development intervention. The forest has in its belly the precious watersheds where we get our potable water. Protect and rehabilitate the uplands, and we’ll stop the further onslaughts of soil erosion which begets waterways’ siltation which then begets flood, nay flashflood rampaging down to our lowland valleys and plains.

But in protecting and rehabilitating the forest and watershed in sustainable manner for the next generation, there is a need to organize, empower and develop the lives of the upland dwellers as well as partnership with and concerted efforts from downland stakeholders, the interagencies especially the local government units.

But the legacies of lessons learned, replicable and innovative models drawn up, summed up by the Sustainable Upland Development (SUD) model, that the UDP has left behind have yet to be sustained and institutionalized at the local levels and be replicated across other towns and provinces that have not been covered by the programme. These except the truly urban Makati and its ilk (though the city, err its tong-gressman still got fertilizer fund from the scam pulled by Jocjoc Bolante during the 2004 presidential campaign).

Though the SUD was already adopted by the League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP) before UDP drew to a close last year, but we haven’t yet heard so much about the SUD being championed even by the recipient LGUs. Maybe ningas cogon behavior has again got the better of our local executives.

Even President Arroyo signed Executive Order No. 606 on February 27, 2007 which embodies the policy and guidelines for the implementation of upland development nationwide. It was better she mentioned upland development in her Monday’s SONA but stopped short of further mentioning the SUD’s merits, which Weibe van Rij pointed out last year before LMP officials as the “key to eradicating Philippine poverty on the whole.”

Nevertheless, for all those UDP years of implementation, LGU officials and employees, upland farmers and stakeholders partook of the big largesse of UDP funds through their attendance to numerous capability trainings and workshops in posh seminar venues and hotels replete with luxurious accommodation and sumptuous and meals and snacks. It was also on these occasions when government employees took their official business (OB), which some say would mean Oli Balay, but others say it’s the etc of the OB’s purpose that is so special as OB would also mean the R & R for the haggard government workers needing a break and rest from their public servitude and away from family pressures, regardless that they maybe horseying around during nighttime. Palong-siga.

Anyway, I take this as just tolerable for as long as public interest is not at stake. That’s their right. But it’s different when they availed of UDP fare refunds even when they had already claimed for transportation allowances covered under their approved official travels, away from eyes of the State auditors. Awash with program funds, UDP itself at times shouldered the travel expenses and allowances of LGU participants who only asked for official time without the municipality or province spending for their official absence. Did they later claim for refund of their travel by simply using their Certificate of Appearance (CA) from a UDP activity? We better ask a mayor of Davao del Norte if he claimed only for official time after he admitted on TV that his travel was refunded by party funds reportedly amounting at the minimum of P50,000 from Lakas during the Lakas-Kampi regional merger at Davao City last month.

Just an afterthought, the Certificate of Appearance is an audit document easily taken. It was even easily waived by a mayor who traipsed at Palawan while his town was bombed of grenade and reeled on panic. He finished his Palawan seminar regardless of the bombing and arrived in his panic-stricken only four days after the blast that killed 3 innocent persons and injured 12 others. Then he waived his CA showing he just completed the course, never mind if his townfolks scampered for cover and panic after the blast.

Now back to policy matters. I’m considering a UDP legacy that is superb and really worth replicating and localizing, This is its land-use based barangay development planning, which particularly delineates land uses in upland barangays through participatory planning of the upland dwellers with the use of GIS and GPS. The other is the diversified farming system which advocates for contoured farms and diversified production. It not only protects the uplands from rolling downhill but also increases upland farmers’ productivity and incomes. Where have all these UDP lessons gone now?

BLOGBUZZ: Yesterday was the fiesta of Monkayo. A belated greetings to all there…Quotable quotes: Provincial elder Pros Amatong reportedly said during the last turnover of the Lakas provincial chairmanship in Comval that “party unity demands personal sacrifice.” From his words, one district figure behaved in his oratory than be comic, sensing that for him to become a mayor he must drop the bid of his daughter as a sacrifice… The influential provincial elder too minced no words in saying that for the party to maintain its unity, “we must follow the party’s process”- the rule of the equity of the incumbent… So that “no one can be left behind” in the words of Gob. Chiongkee… With these quotable quotes, the Lakas-Kampi wrangling is no longer open. Maybe it would be made behind backs…Rural Urban News is offering crash journalism courses for campus journalists. Txt 09069104553. (For online edition, visit my blogs at:https://cha4t.wordpress.com)

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One Response to “Where have all the UDP lessons gone?”

  1. I’m aware regarding the Upland Development Program the project of
    Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Jose L. Atienza, together with President Arroyo. The farmer could benefits this program and it’s an adoption of more intensified agricultural practices by farmers in the pilot areas as a means to improve the livelihoods of local communities while at the same time conserve the biodiversity of a highly priority protected area.The DENR CENRO-PENRO Northern Mindanao they hired new employee such as forest extension officer and bantay gubat. I was wondering after 2 months working at this project they announce it to have a temporary stop working on it. The contract of the project was started april 2009 – Dec.2009. Where did they put the funding of this project and worst is.. they stop the work of batay gubat and forest extension officer with out paying it. The batay gubat and forest extension officer didn’t receive the salary. I could say that Government agency it the # practices corruption.

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