ILOILO CITY -- Iloilo City, for the second time, has been conferred the Galing Pook Award, which recognizes best local government practices in the country worthy of replication by other local government units (LGUs).
Its entry, the Iloilo Batiano River Development Project, joined the rest of nine other LGU awardees conferred in a ceremony held in Quezon City, Thursday evening, coinciding with the 25th Year of the Galing Pook Awards.
Engr. Noel Hechanova, head of the City Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) and at the same time the Executive of the Iloilo Batiano River Development Council (IBRDC), said on Saturday that the city government “has been a model” in terms of bringing together private and public sectors for holistic intervention.
“We demonstrated that the complex process of coordination needs an LGU (local government unit). Because of that, we are a model,” he said.
Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu, during his visit to this city in May 2017, said that the river can serve as a model for other LGUs.
He cited that the initiative brought together 18 major river basins in the country for a summit last year to see the river for themselves.
Hechanova said that the Iloilo River showcased a “holistic approach touching on the economic, environment and human transformation.”
Iloilo City Mayor Jose Espinosa, in his presentation before a panel prior to the awarding ceremony held October 10, described the project as a “joint collaboration among national agencies, non-government organizations, academe and civil society to address siltation, water pollution, encroachment, illegal cutting of mangroves, and informal settlements along the Iloilo River.”
“It benefited more than 50,000 residents from 35 barangays living along the Iloilo River in terms of improved health, ecological sustainability, and sense of security and livability,” he said.
The initiative led to the relocation of informal settlers along the river banks, removal of fish pens, prevention of soil erosion and preservation of the mangrove’s high biodiversity index, he added.
The IBRDC started as Iloilo River Council (IRDC) that was organized way back in 2006 to look into the rehabilitation activities of Iloilo River spanning some 13.5 kilometers. Various activities went full swing in 2010.
Hechanova said investments coming from various government agencies reached almost PHP1.7 billion while the private sector contributed around PHP500 million for various projects.
It 2012, the IRDC was expanded to become Iloilo-Batiano River Development Council (IBRDC) to include the contiguous Batiano River, which is within the jurisdiction of the adjacent municipality of Oton.
Hechanova said that more has yet to be done for the river, including addressing water pollution and make the river as an eco-tourism destination.
Espinosa, now head of the IBRDC, led the Iloilo delegation in receiving the plaque together with the PHP100,000 cash award.
In 2012, Iloilo City got its first Galing Pook Award through its Dinagyang Festival serving as a venue to promote good governance and human capital.
Other Galing Pook Awardees this year are the Ridge to Reef (R2R) program of Bindoy, Negros Oriental; “No Vote, Ibot” No More: Ending the Political Bondage in Resettlement Areas by Providing Security of Tenure of Cagayan de Oro City; Siargao It Up! Mangrove Management and Social Tourism Program of Del Carmen, Surigao del Norte; Reviving the Musical Tradition and Heritage by Empowering People through the Loboc Music Program of Loboc, Bohol; Barangay eSkwela and Barangay Literacy Worker Program of Naga City; ACHIEVE: Accessible, Holistic and Inclusive Education of Navotas City; The Importance of Cultural Heritage Conservation and the Role of the Education Sector by San Nicolas, Ilocos Norte; Tagumpay Works Program of Tagum, Davao del Norte and Tayo na Mapayapang Valenzuela: Tuloy-tuloy ang Asenso! The Valenzuela City Comprehensive Safety and Security Plan of Valenzuela City.
“The awards have cited some 319 programs from at least 200 LGUs over the years, including this year’s winners, judging them on their positive results and impact, their empowerment of the people, transferability and sustainability, innovation and efficiency of their program service delivery,” a Galing Pook press statement stated.
Meantime, the “Champion Farmers Program” of the town of Lambunao in Iloilo was among the 21 programs that were presented during the Galing Pook Governance Fair Youth in Innovative Governance.
It is holistic capacity building program for mostly poor farmers of the town. It was meant to uplift the economic status of farmers by way of providing value formation coupled with technical skills training. (PNA)