Bill seeks to harmonize gov’t programs

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Friday, February 28, 2014

IF APPROVED, the proposed National Convergence Initiative (NCI) Act would prevent National Government Agencies (NGAs) from implementing projects in rural areas without the approval of the local government concerned.

The House Committee on Rural Development, headed by Rep. Manuel Agyao of Kalinga, yesterday conducted a public hearing in Samboan, Cebu on Bill 1891, which seeks to institutionalize the NCI.

The NCI is an initiative of the Departments of Agriculture (DA), Agrarian Reform (DAR), and Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in 1999. It sought to harmonize government policies and programs related to rural development.


Rep. Pryde Henry Teves of the first district of Negros Oriental said government policies and programs have to complement each other to achieve sustainable development in the countryside.

He cited as example the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) project to protect the ludong fish (freshwater mullet), which is endemic to the Cagayan River and its tributaries extending to the watersheds of Cagayan Valley.

The ludong population, however, declined when the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) built a dam to feed a hydroelectric generation plant that powers an irrigation project in Nueva Ecija.

The proposed National Convergence Initiative Act was first filed in the 15th Congress in 2011 as House Bill 5582 and Teves was among its proponents.

In the explanatory note that accompanied House Bill 1891, proponent Rep. Wilfredo Mark Enver said that after two decades, a lot remains to be done to ensure the success of the NCI framework.


They said that after two decades, “functional overlaps, gaps, as well as fragmentation of responsibilities have become apparent in many areas.”

The proposed law states that local government units will prevail in developing and implementing strategies for sustainable rural development.

The bill provides for participatory and pro-active approach in rural development, which is considered an instrument to reduce poverty in the country.

Rep. Wilfredo Caminero (Cebu, second district), who was present during the public hearing, said that once the bill is approved at the committee level, it will go through second, third and final reading.

It will then go up to the Senate, said Teves, who added that he is confident that it will be approved because of President Benigno Aquino’s influence.

Reps. George Arnaiz of the second district of Negros Oriental, Elisa Kho of Masbate and Marie Anne Pernes of Siquijor also attended yesterday’s public hearing.

Town officials of Samboan, Tuburan, Dumanjug, Boljoon and Ginatilan, and some Cebu Provincial Board members also attended the hearing.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 28, 2014.

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