Naga City’s Kaantabay sa Kauswagan

Our government has been given a negative image by the public. This is the reason why when the late Jesse Robredo passed away a lot of people were saddened. It’s because having an image of a very great leader makes him such a big loss in the society. He was able to do numerous projects that really exemplify good governance. One of this was Naga City’s “Kaantabay sa Kauswagan” or Partners in Development Program .

The “Kaantabay sa Kauswagan” (Partners in Development) Program is a housing program for the urban poor. What sets it apart from any other housing projects is its very successful multi-awarded program. The program is a 2001 International Awardee, Finalist – World Habitat Awards, 1998 International Awardee, Habitat II Top 40 Best Practices in improving the Human Environment, 1994 National Awardee, and Gantimpalang Panlingkod Pook (Galing-Pook Award).

In order for the program to be successful, it created a separate office that would be responsible for all the matters of the project. This lead office is the Urban Poor Affairs Office (UPAO) and is under the Office of the City Mayor. This is a mark of efficiency since it is now more centralized.

Then, the program adopted a tripartite strategy in order to address the urban poor problem. This is comprised of the government, urban poor sectors/beneficiaries, and private landowners.          The government here are the city and national agencies involved which are: the Naga City government which is the Local Government Unit (LGU) that served as the main program implementor; Department of Environment & Natural Resources(DENR) which is the line government department that authorized city government to supervise disposition of lands in Naga City; National Housing Authority (NHA) which is the land shelter agency responsible for the production of housing units and assistance in developing relocation sites; National Home Mortgage Finance Corporation (NHMFC), Home Insurance Guaranty Corporation (HIGC), and Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) are the Government-Owned and Controlled Corporations (GOCCs) involved with the financial matters of the program; lastly, Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor (PCUP) which is a national urban poor agency which are concerned about the issues and program advocacy, and  accreditation of urban poor organizations.

On the other hand, the urban poor sectors/beneficiaries in this project are the Urban poor federation, associations, and their allied non-governmental organization (NGO) namely: the Naga urban poor associations are the NGOs that serves at the main program partner-beneficiaries; Community Organization of the Philippines Enterprise (COPE) foundation which is a Development NGO that is concerned of the community organizing, social preparation, and issue and program advocacy, and is also the one responsible why the need for this program was brought up; Caceres Social Action Foundation (CASAF) which is a church-based organization and Bicol Business Development Foundation (BBDF) which is a private business foundation that functions as Community Mortgage Program (CMP) originator.

            Finally, the private landowners in the project were: Abella Family, Ronquillo Family, Dy-Liaco Family, Borebor Family, Bemardo Family landowners, Belmonte Family, and Heir of Fabiana Arejola. These are the sellers of property including a religious group which is the Archdiocese of Caceres.

Another facet of the program’s efficiency is its requirement for its beneficiaries to be a member of a community organization recognized by UPAO. This makes things easier since UPAO would only need to negotiate with the organization and not with the individual. In addition, being part of any recognized organization of the claimants of the program, it is expected that these would serve as avenues for the urban poor to be aware of their rights and responsibilities and thus empowering them with knowledge.

Finally, the intense dedication given by the local executives and the staff is a major factor of the success achieved by this program since willingness and devotion to this project’s goals is high. The City’s general development objective as described in the 1996 Annual Report are the following:

  • to implement programs and projects that will provide employment and livelihood

opportunities for the City populace

  • construction of basic infrastructure facilities as well as rehabilitation of existing ones in order to attract investors to the city
  • political and economic empowerment of the people so that both would be working together in order to attain the aforementioned goals

While the program’s goal is that it “seeks to institutionalize a mechanism that will provide permanent solutions to all land and tenurial problems involving urban poor.”

  • Normalization – address land tenure issues involving homelots for urban poor
  • Poverty Reduction – help urban poor build capital and promote socio-economic empowerment
  • Urban Upgrading –provide basic infrastructure and facilities in urban poor communities

While its short-term objectives are:

  • Provide permanent solutions to all land tenure problems involving urban poor
  • Uplift living condition of urban residents in the city
  • Eradicate arbitrary ejection and minimize incidences of eviction/demolition
  • Explore alternative modes of land acquisition

And its long-term objectives are:

  • Empower the urban poor sector in Naga City by providing homelots, basic infrastructure and services, as well as livelihood opportunities to all in need
  • Strengthen the urban poor sector and heighten their participation in local governance
  • Integrate the urban poor in the mainstream of development and make them more productive members of society

It is really commendable that clearly stating the need for the urban poor’s participation just emphasizes the program’s humbleness that it cannot do everything when only one side is working. This is also a clear manifestation of how the program is seeking for sustainability along with its intention of permanency and for having long-term objectives. In addition, the city government established a Trust Fund at the City Treasury in anticipation of future socialized housing and resettlement projects.

Personally, I really do think that this Kaantabay sa Kauswagan (Partners in Development) Program is a good program since it is very efficient, effective, and ideal. It is efficient in terms of the way it made its processes less time consuming be centralizing the operations through UPAO and the required membership of the beneficiaries to a community organization. I appreciated through this program’s case study the need for government which is to make things more efficient at least despite that; generally, it is considered very inefficient especially when juxtaposed with the private sector. It is very effective in its implementations since there were various strategies used such as on-site development, direct purchase, land swapping, land sharing, and purchase the presently occupied property of the urban poor through Community Mortgage Program which raises the confidence level for the program’s success since it is very open and highly adaptable to how it should address a particular situation. It was even stated that in five years of implementation, the program was able to help a total of 2,900 landless families. Also, it has upgraded 27 blighted urban poor communities with million worth of infrastructures and awarded 345 core houses to homeless typhoon victims. Figures available such as the ones I have just previously stated are proofs that this project’s success rate was not attained by those that mimic this program. This success factor and brilliant ideas for efficiency and its tripartite approach made this program an ideal one that is also reality. Another astounding result of this program is that now it continues to serve as basis for land problems involving the urban poor in Naga. Indeed, it deserves all the awards it garnered and I hope other LGUs would be able to successfully implement a program as efficient, effective, and ideal as this.

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