Thursday, April 3, 2008

Signs of hope

The search is on again for innovative ideas to address development and poverty challenges as well as local governance. Up to P1 million each in grants is up for grabs for organizations with proposals on this year’s theme, “Building Partnerships for Effective Local Governance.”

I have been a frequent goer to the yearly Panibagong Paraan “marketplace”. It’s a great source not only of innovative ideas, it is also a great source of stories to write—what people think up in order to be of help to their fellow Filipinos. Here you can feel the quiet heroism and daring of those who are working on the ground among real people with real needs.

If you want to take a break from soul-polluting politics, go to the mall for this event. It will surely take away some of your cynicism, bitterness, hopelessness and fatigue. Eat healthy afterwards.

Ninety nine finalists from over 500 entries from all over the country will showcase their ideas at the Megatrade Halls 2 and 3 at SM Megamall on April 9 and 10. This will be a great time to exchange ideas, visions and strategies, and, most of all, share hope.

Visit the booths, seek out the key persons, ask questions, compare notes, take home informative reading materials.

Most of the participants/finalists are not new kids on the block, many are veterans in the field of development and civic work. The winning prize of P1 million (there will be many winners) is not much but it can at least finance new projects, new thrusts. For newcomers from civil society and local government units, there is no reason for them to feel intimidated when they are among giants in the development field. Thinking out of the box is one of the winning factors. Can it be done? What are the benefits? Is it sustainable?

The proposed projects should adhere to this year’s theme and work toward the following: improve transparency and accountability in governance; broaden and improve quality of citizen participation in governance; strengthen collaboration among stakeholders; and improve responsiveness and efficiency of public services.

Many years ago, non-government organizations would have almost nothing to do with local governance. The two sectors were worlds apart and looked at each other with suspicion.

This year’s “development marketplace” will be a venue for sharing not only among the finalists but with the public as well. Knowledge, skills, best practices on multi-sectoral partnerships in governance will be shared through roundtable discussions, workshops and presentations by past Panibagong Paraan winners.

Since this year’s theme revolves around local governance, local officials even at the barangay level should go and be amazed by how much could be done at the local level. In fact, many say, ignore the national, the endless bickering, politicking and grandstanding. There is hope at the local level.

Proposed projects fall under any of the following categories: governance and administration, delivery of basic social services (health, nutrition, education, housing, energy), economic development, environmental management, disaster risk reduction and rehabilitation, plus several special categories such as population, migration, etc.

Panibagong Paraan is a joint project of the World Bank, AusAID-PACAP, the British Embassy, League of Corporate Foundations, Peace and Equity Foundation, Dept. of Interior and Local Government-Local Government Academy, Canadian International Development Agency, the Philippine Center for Population and Development, Energy Foundation, Asia Foundation, USAID, ADB, Code-NGO and the Phil. Rural Reconstruction Movement.


Two convictions. The Cebu Regional Trial Court found John Lloyd Ortiz guilty of the attempted 2004 murder of Cirse “Choy” Torrabla.

According to the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines Judge Estela Alam Singco issued the 29-page decision on March 31, sentencing Ortiz to up to 12 years in jail.

Ortiz pleaded not guilty to a charge of shooting Torrabla several times while he was driving past the dyAR radio station in Cebu City. Torrabla, who now has a program at the dyLA station in Cebu City, was seriously injured.

As many as 91 murders of journalists and media workers have been recorded by the NUJP in the past 20 years. Only four perpetrators have been convicted and only eight investigations are active.

Now, three years after the 2005 murder of Mindanao columnist Marlene Esperat, the hired killers are serving life terms in prison. The masterminds have eluded arrest.

According to MindaNews Cotabato City police chief Willie Dangane said that the warrants for the arrest of alleged masterminds Osmena Montaner, finance officer of the Department of Agriculture regional office and Estrella Sabay, regional accountant, had been served in their residences in the city afternoon of February 22 but the two suspects had fled.

According to MindaNews, Montaner and Sabay were named masterminds in the killing of Esperat by former military intelligence agent Rowie Biruar, who helped plan the assassination but later turned state witness.

Through Barua's testimony, the three other hired killers, Randy Grecia, Gerry Cabayag and Estanislao Bismanos, were sentenced to life imprisonment by Cebu City RTC Judge Eric Menchavez in 2006.

Esperat, a DA chemist who exposed corrupt practices in the regional office, was gunned down in 2005 while having dinner with her two young sons at their residence. Esperat wrote a column for a local weekly, Midland Review.