By Danny O. Calleja
LEGAZPI CITY, Dec. 13 (PNA) — The collaboration between the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) in Bicol is seeing the skills development of some 1,000 beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) in the province of Camarines Sur.
This mutual covenant is part of providing sustainable intervention through skills development aimed at empowering 4Ps beneficiaries towards landing in more gainful employment, DSWD Regional Director Arnel Garcia said in a press statement on Sunday.
The intervention will involve technical vocational education and training under the Accelerated and Sustainable Anti-Poverty Program (ASAPP) which will benefit about 1,000 beneficiaries from the Camarines Sur towns of Libmanan, Sipocot and Bato and the City of Iriga, according to Garcia.
Conceptualized by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) as a public-private partnership (PPP) model, the ASAPP is a new line of attack on poverty that taps the skills and resources of the poor, thus, creating sustainable employment and promoting productivity.
At the same time, private enterprises are enabled to expand their production capacities and markets.
NEDA Regional Director Agnes Espinas explained that under the ASAPP, the poor are linked with private or social enterprises which may need human and material resources through interventions that include skills training to increase the poor’s employability in business with growth potential.
It also facilitates trade and market linkages to allow the poor to supply the needed raw materials and provide inputs and services needed by the bigger businesses.
With the ASAPP, the government aims to significantly bring down poverty incidence in 2016 by creating income opportunities for the poor and enhancing their employment.
Camarines Sur, Garcia said, is the program’s pilot area for Bicol, being one of the 10 provinces in the country with highest number of poor individuals — 771,984 of its nearly two million total population as determined by the Philippine Statistical Authority in its latest survey.
In the National Household Targeting System for Poverty Reduction or Listahanan, the DSWD’s nationwide information management system that identifies who and where the poor are, the province is listed with 136,208 or 60 percent of its total of 226,714 households assessed, identified as poor.
The ASAPP aims to significantly reduce Camarines Sur’s 41.2-percent poverty incident to at least 20 percent by next year using the City of Iriga and the municipalities of Bato, Libmanan and Sipocot as the growth hub.
Iriga is a third-class agricultural city located at the heart of Bicol’s economic growth corridor; Bato is a third- class rural municipality famous for its Bato Lake, a sanctuary of various freshwater commercial fish species; Libmanan is a first-class town considered as the “rice basket” not only of the province but also of Southern Luzon; and Sipocot is another first-class municipality known for its rich agriculture.
According to the regional office for Bicol here of the NEDA, Camarines Sur’s Gross Domestic Product for 2014 was at 7.5 percent while unemployment rate was 19 percent.
Espinas said that although employment targets in the province are being met, poverty remains a major concern, given the fact that there are rapid growth opportunities but not for the poor — meaning in-migrants are attracted but they cannot participate in the growth process.
She said the province’s per capita income increased by 6.4 percent in 2014 but the gains were eroded by inflation rate that was at 6.5 percent for food, 11.9 percent for rice, 10.3 percent for vegetable and 2.7 percent for non-food items.
Anti-poverty initiatives to be financed under the ASAPP are the Universal Health Care, Conditional Cash Transfer, Sustainable Livelihood “ABOT ALAM” and others for informal settler families.
This program also makes use of the current business development programs of the national agencies that include the Small-Medium Enterprise Roving Academy, Shared Service Facilities, Nationwide Industry Cluster Capacity Enhancement Program, Access of Small Entrepreneurs to Sound Lending Opportunities (ASENSO Program) Microfinance Program, and Doing Business in Free Trade Areas.
With the DSWD and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources as its lead and co-convener, respectively, the ASAPP comes as remedy as it employs mechanisms to engage the poor as source of labor and raw materials of private or social enterprises serving as direct employers, Espinas explained.
The program’s key elements are economic growth, employment creation, income redistribution and strategies to maintain low food price inflation.
Garcia describes Camarines Sur as having two faces — very high growth potential, and yet very big number of poor families.
Through the ASAPP, the government wants to ensure that the gap between the rich and the poor will not widen, and nobody should be left behind, he said.
Under the skills development program, Garcia explained, TESDA shall conduct 21 varied vocational courses in the desired venue like technical and vocational schools in Camarines Sur.
For this purpose, the DSWD, he said, has allocated and downloaded to TESDA an amount of PhP9.9 million which will be used to purchase tool kits needed for the training and for the food and transportation allowance of the trainees.
From that amount, each trainee is allocated PhP306 per day for the required number of days which is according to their respective training module.
Following the training, the DSWD regional office will validate the eligibility of the trainee fit for the module and provide continuous technical assistance and capacity building support to them, Garcia added. (PNA)