SEVENTEEN communities in Zamboanga City and five in Basilan Province that have been marginalized by under-development or outright violence were formally “graduated” from a year-long empowerment program on Wednesday, July 30, as implemented by the Zamboanga-Basilan Integrated Development Alliance, Inc. (ZABIDA).
In a morning-long gathering dubbed as “Social Marketing Forum” at the Marcian Garden Hotel Convention Center in Zamboanga City, the communities’ program facilitators and coordinators and their respective barangay officials were recognized for their achievements to strengthen their self-governance and grassroot development initiatives through the ZABIDA program. The program, funded by the Australian government, is officially called “Integrated Social Empowerment Program” that targeted sector-by-sector encapacitation towards civic activism and collaboration.
This is a celebration of discoveries and experiences that communities and ZABIDA encountered in the course of the program’s journey, ZABIDA president Fr. Angel Calvo said in his welcome message. The partnership, he said, has revealed opportunities by which deep-down social transformations to overcome poverty and attain total human security, sector by needy sector. This thrust, he said, resonates with President Aquino’s central message in his State of the Nation Address this week wherein he appealed for an authentic social transformation. This is achieved, he said, through social mobilization as aimed for by the ZABIDA program, which is in one respect in consonance with the national government’s bottom-up budgeting process.
Highlights of the program’s achievements are documented in a book published by ZABIDA and which was launched during the ceremony. The book entitled “ZABIDA – Weaving the Tapestry of Shared Realities in Zamboanga City and Basilan” was written by Liezl Camacho. Dr. Grace Rebollos, president of ZABIDA partner Reach Out to Others Foundation (ROOF), presented the book.
City Hall executive assistant Christian Olasiman delivered the message of Zamboanga City mayor Ma. Isabel Climaco-Salazar. He said the LGU values the importance of people involvement in community development and planning, in sustainable development, peace-building through the delivery of social services, and the achievement of human security. He said the forum is a prime example of how the process should be pursued.
Speaking on behalf of his mayor Rustam Ismael, Lantawan municipal planning and development coordinator Ruben Mustapa said that as a result of the town’s five barangays’ participation in the program, the LGU’s next budgeting process will endeavor to invest more funds towards their basic services.
Sectoral representatives from the youth, children, women, elderly, persons with disability, urban poor and landless, farmers, and indigenous peoples also delivered their respective “statement of partnership”. The Department of Trade and Industry and Department of Agriculture, national office of the International Labor Organizations (ILO) and the persons with disability association president Teddy Kahil delivered their responses to the issues and concerns raised by the sectoral representatives.
Democratic participation and good government in local communities is one of the six key thrusts of ZABIDA being implemented this year.