Approaches to Development
Province of Negros Oriental
For years now, the province of Oriental Negros
has been initiating successful programs that have been benefiting
and empowering its 1.2-million population. These programs
have been so successful that the province has been consistently
bagging awards and recognitions.
The latest of these awards is the 2005 Award
for Continuing Excellence (ACE), the top recognition conferred
by the Gawad Galing Pook, to recognize the local government
unit’s (LGU) successful initiatives in addressing agricultural
production, healthcare and coastal resource management concerns.
Encouraging the young to fish and farm
The youth in Negros, even those from farming families, have
grown leery of tilling the soil. They have opted to seek factory
or office-based jobs rather than farm. This trend has the
potential of creating problems for the province. Thus, the
Gulayan at Palaisdaan Alay sa Kabataan (GPAK) or Vegetable
Farms and Fisheries for the Youth program was created to address
this concern. It was launched in March 2002 by Gov. George
Arnaiz and has helped increase agricultural production, and
reduce poverty and hunger by maximizing the productivity of
The program aimed to: provide schools additional
income and supply of vegetables and fish for the feeding program;
serve as vehicle for relevant education of children and their
family; complement the government’s goal for food production
to attain sustainable agriculture; and enhance the socio-cultural
well-being of the people and the community.
Because of the clear benefits, the program
was warmly embraced by the stakeholders—the schools,
students, and parents. Thus, from a total of 1,456 hectares
before GPAK was launched, the area devoted to vegetable farms
increased by 139.31 hectares with the inclusion of idle school
lots. This translated into a 9.7% contribution to the province’s
total vegetable area and about 8.4% or 668 metric tons in
production. The program also added 8% to the tilapia production
in the province with the establishment of 23 ponds. In the
last three years, the province’s total tilapia production
was 49 metric tons (MT), with GPAK production accounting for
The availability of fresh vegetables and
fish benefited the school-feeding program, minimizing school
expenses by up to 40%. Most importantly, this reduced malnutrition
among school pupils from 39.21% in SY 2002-03 down to 22.90%
in SY 2004-05.
For the schools, the program generated a
total of PhP1.670 million during the project’s first
three years. The amount helped the schools fund the improvement
of their facilities and other gardening needs.
GPAK also helped preserve and improve the
environment through the promotion of organic vegetable production
with the use of compost, vermin-compost and vermin-casts,
and natural farming technology systems.
The program also helped promote people empowerment
with the formation, strengthening and institutionalization
of people’s organizations and community-based structures,
such as the formation of the Young Farmers and Young Savers
Clubs. It also strengthened and actively involved the Parents
Teachers Community Association and barangay councils. Eventually,
other organizations volunteered their services (such as the
Karancho, an association of habal-habal or motorbikes for
hire, which offered to haul compost and organic materials).
Improving agricultural service delivery
Another agricultural initiative, the Barangay Agricultural
Development Center (BADC), launched in October 1998, aimed
to: address the needs of the people in the hinterlands; minimize
the problem of insurgency; and provide government services
spearheaded by the agricultural sector. Its guiding principle
is people empowerment and has elicited the active participation
of small farmers. The program also hoped to increase farm
family income by 15% from the 1997 level.
Among BADC’s innovative features is that it uses a multi-level
approach to development; it serves as a training center for
agriculture and fishery development, as well as a venue for
convergence of government and non-government services in far-flung
and under-served areas.
Its beneficiaries are 28 farmers groups with
1,221 members, 22 rural improvement clubs with 612 members
and 26 4-H Clubs with 1,040 members.
The program has contributed to the eradication of extreme
poverty. It has increased the average family income from PhP71,574
in 1997 to P94,077 in 2004. Agricultural productivity also
increased. Rice production increased by 60%; corn production
by 212% (5, 937.5MT from 1,900MT); and, vegetables by 26%
(1,008.5MT from 800MT).
BADC also facilitated small farmers’
access to credit from financing institutions, such as Quedancor
and the Land Bank of the Philippines. This helped increase
entrepreneurial activities in BADC sites, made tabo or market
days more frequent, and increased the number of auction markets.
It also spurred infrastructure development in BADC areas,
such as farm-to-market roads worth P7.75 million and BADC
building worth P1.5 million.
All these contributed to the reduction of
poverty by 32.11% in 2004 from the 1990 level. Moreover, the
availability of more agricultural products contributed to
the decrease in malnutrition rate from 28% in 2003 to 17.26%
To promote environment sustainability, the
program employed environment-friendly technologies, such as
soil conservation, contour farming, integrated pest management,
and natural and organic farming.
Economic empowerment for the women ensued. Women—who
mostly comprise the BADC associations and Barangay Development
Councils—learned new skills for income generation.
From only seven areas when it started in 1998, the BADC program
has been replicated in 92 sites as of January 2006.
Enhancing Health Services
With the passage of the Local Government Code in 1991 came
the devolution of health services to local government units
(LGU). This caused setbacks in operations, especially of the
The devolution caused a 52% to 87% reduction
in the provincial government’s budget for hospital operations.
And because the LGUs were not technically prepared to manage
devolved health services, this led to the deterioration of
hospital and public health services. Local chief executives
also found themselves shifting from political administrators
to health service and economic-enterprise managers.
To address the problem, Governor Arnaiz initiated
the Inter-LGU-NGO Partnership in the Delivery of Health Services/
Institutionalization of District Health System in 1992. It
was meant to improve the organization and management of healthcare
delivery; provide adequate budget for health services; develop
hospital facilities and equipment; and develop human resources
and augment staffing.
The program entailed the establishment of
the Negros Oriental Provincial Hospital System. For fiscal
flexibility, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (Provincial Council)
fixed hospital fees and authorized government hospitals to
make use of their own income. It also involved augmentation
of health personnel with the accreditation of visiting private
consultants and hiring of contractual personnel and part-time
consultants. Hospital teams were also provided medical training
in selected national hospitals in Metro Manila.
Meanwhile, the adoption of a Health Reform
Agenda led to improvements in public health management and
drug management and the development of the local health system
and local health financing scheme.
The ensuing increase in income led to improved
health facilities, equipment, additional staff, improved services
and quality of patient care. It likewise helped lower the
costs of diagnostic fees and other services, and reduced expenses
through the pooled procurement and parallel drug importation.
It also facilitated the creation of the Inter-Local Health
Zone Common Trust Fund and the establishment of the Botika
ng Barangay or the Barangay Drugstore.
The institutionalization of the district
health system brought about the implementation of the “Peso
for Health” program, which addressed financial issues.
The program entailed cooperativism, which became the anchor
of curative and preventive health-care programs and services.
With the introduction of preventive and curative health practices,
health expenses were further reduced. The district health-care
system also became a means of community health-care financing.
It engaged in the generation, mobilization and allocation
of resources for effective, efficient and equitable provision
of health services.
As a result, child and maternal mortality,
morbidity and malnutrition declined: infant deaths from 11.92
per 100 live births in 1995 to 8.36/100 in 2002; maternal
deaths from 83/100,000 in 1995 to 68.28/100,000 in 2002; protein
energy malnutrition (second and third degree) from 6.5% in
1995 to 5.91% in 2002. The incidence of pulmonary tuberculosis
also dropped from No. 7 to No. 10 in the leading causes of
Gender issues were also addressed. For instance,
through the establishment of pink rooms in hospitals for battered
women and child-abuse victims, and the designation of blue
rooms for men’s non-surgical sterilization and sexual
dysfunction. Women were also deputized as family or barangay
health workers and volunteers. In addition, the Negros Oriental
Family Planning and Reproductive Health Advocacy Network and
the Provincial Council of Women were organized.
For the safety of the environment, hospital waste was properly
disposed, “No Smoking” signs were put up. The
4 o’clock habit Dengue Information Campaign was launched
and the cleanliness of hospital surroundings was strictly
Clearly, the Inter-LGU-NGO partnership resulted in the remarkable
health improvement of Negros Oriental residents.
Established in 1988 by the provincial government of Negros
Oriental under the leadership of Gov. Emilio Macias II, the
Community Primary Health Project aimed to address the basic
needs of primary hospital care and comprehensive primary health
care of underserved areas in the province, specifically in
the mountains. The program is a community-managed, self-propelling
10-bed facility. It is run by the community through the Community
Primary Hospital Board.
Its services include the provision of primary
level hospital care, comprehensive maternal and child health
care services, expanded program of immunization, control of
diarrhea, control of acute respiratory infection, nutrition,
family planning, TB control, health education, promotion of
herbal medicine, training of indigenous health workers (hilot),
outreach clinics (including Operation Tuli), fund raising
and income-generating projects.
The program achieved a host of positive socio-economic
and environmental impact, such as declining malnutrition rate,
improved environmental sanitation with the construction of
sanitary toilets, and better access to hospitals.
Four CPH projects were established by the
provincial government in far-flung mountain barangays servicing
80% to 85% of the potential beneficiaries annually. The program’s
success is apparent in the decrease in the number of total
deaths, increase in the number of individuals availing themselves
of basic health services and number of individuals or organizations
providing support to the hospital.
For instance, the Kalumboyan Primary Community
Hospital, registered the following from 1990 to 1993: the
total number of patients served by the hospital increased
from 2,056 to 4,735; increase in the number of fully immunized
children from 45% to 100%; family planning acceptors multiplied;
and, the crude death rate declined from 2.4 to 1.9.
Meanwhile, the Community-Based Resource Management
(CBRM) program was launched in 1989 by Governor Macias. It
aimed to: raise the income and living standards of the province’s
marginal farmers, forest dwellers and small-scale fishermen;
stop the land degradation and marine-habitat destruction;
rehabilitate and regenerate forest, upland and marine resources;
and organize, develop and strengthen the people’s organizations
to transform them into self-reliant and sustaining communities.
To attain these aims, CBRM activities entailed
agroforestry, such as micro-watershed development, on-farm
and off-farm reforestation, livestock dispersal, upland fishpond
development, and trainings on human resource development,
leadership, ecology and other technical aspects of agroforestry.
Also among the major activities were the
establishment of marine reserves, construction and installation
of artificial reefs (using used tires), mangrove reforestation,
the establishment of land-based alternative livelihood for
fisherfolks, underwater surveys and trainings.
After experiencing CBRM, the stakeholders
are now convinced that the way toward development is through
the community’s efforts. The organized farmers and fishermen
have been brought closer to their goal of “liberation
The CBRM program increased productivity,
improved cropping intensity and enhanced the living standards
of the beneficiaries. The rehabilitation of marine resources
benefited both the cooperators and non-cooperators. The program
adopters reported huge increases in their income, while fish
catch have also been improving. In addition, the project participants
have also been encouraging others to adopt CBRM technologies
and to protect and rehabilitate the environment.
The increase in the number of associations
and active members that participated in the program is indicative
of the success of the CBRM. From 74 associations and 2,278
active members in 1991, these increased to 144 associations
and 4,647 members in 1993.
Increase in LGU participation is also indicated
by the requests for more Bantay Dagat (or Coastal Watch) trainings,
more fund allocation for additional staff, etc.
By employing various community-based, innovative
and participatory programs, Negros Oriental has shown that
progress is possible when there is cooperation among all the
stakeholders. Government officials from other provinces and
other countries like Indonesia have been paying a visit to
Negros Oriental to learn the programs, and to replicate these
in their own communities.