KORONADAL CITY, South Cotabato, July 3 (PIA) - All government agencies involved in the implementation of the national government's Executive Order No. 70 in SOCCSKSARGEN Region have set their development efforts to South Cotabato's largest barangay, Ned in Lake Sebu.
Rafael Abrogar III, regional director of TESDA 12, led regional directors and representative of national government agencies in the launching on Wednesday of Project IPEACE (Indigenous Peoples Empowered as Agripreneurs Towards a Collective End) in Ned.
Ned, where most of the residents are Tbolis, is comprised of 52 sitios (sub-villages) spread in about 42,000 hectares, nearly half of the 89,000 hectare area of the entire Municipality of Lake Sebu. The farthest barangay of South Cotabato, Ned is situated in the province's boundaries with the provinces of Sultan Kudarat and Sarangani.
"Project IPEACE is a program in support to the EO 70 of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte that mandates convergence of all government agencies in delivering services to the remotest places, especially the indigenous people communities," RD Abrogar told the villagers who attended the launching activity at Sitio Kibang.
Abrogar explained that Project IPEACE prioritizes improving productivity of agricultural lands in IP communities.
"Thus, we will be partnering with the Department of Agriculture for this project. TESDA, on the other hand, will provide the necessary training to improve your production. Other government agencies will also join to ensure that services are given from the time of planting to harvesting and marketing of products," Abrogar said.
After the ceremony, several government agencies gathered sitio leaders and residents in a consultative meeting.
Among the agencies that set up desks for consultation were the Department of Agriculture, Department of Labor and Employment, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, Philippine Coconut Authority, Department of Agrarian Reform, Department of Education, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Department of Trade and Industry, and the Department of the Interior and Local Government.
This consultation, Abrogar said, "is essential for government agencies to gather the concerns of the communities and find solutions to their problems."
Among the immediate concerns identified by the sitio leaders were farm-to-market roads, water systems, school buildings, electricity, agricultural production support and others.
At the event, TESDA announced the start of Project TALA which will train 100 residents of sitio Blit in photovoltaic systems installation and eventually provide solar power to households of the trainees.
The Philippine Coconut Authority, on the other hand, has coordinated with local leaders for the distribution of seed nuts that could establish coconut farms in 200 to 400 hectares in Barangay Ned by the end of 2020.
In his response message, Lake Sebu Mayor Floro Gandam said the selection of Barangay Ned as pilot site of the JRTF-ELCAC XII flagship initiative is much welcome.
"This is a great advantage for the municipality of Lake Sebu, specifically Barangay Ned. Relying only on our own funding, the municipal government may not be able to fund all needed projects. However, with at least 17 national government agencies implementing government projects here, we will surely be able to reduce poverty," Mayor Gandam said.
Barangay Ned is the fifth barangay to be identified as pilot site of the Project IPEACE as a flagship project of the Joint Regional Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Comflict (JRTF-ELCAC) Region 12.
On June 23 and 24, Secretary Isidro Lapena, cabinet officer for regional development and security in Region 12, led the kick off ceremonies of Project IPEACE in Alegria in Alabel, Sarangani; San Jose in General Santos City; Datal-blao in Columbio, Sultan Kudarat; and Manobo in Magpet, Cotabato Province.
Project briefer indicates that Project IPEACE aims ""to transform IP communities into integrated food production sites; develop self-reliant, resilient, and sustainable IP communities; attain food security for a balanced and equitable resource distribution and dynamic economic livelihood and income opportunities to produce sustainable communities; and end insurgency." (DED-PIA XII)