VP’s small steps to aid poor communities
By Juan Escandor Jr. TINAMBAC, Camarines Sur---Despite the absence of budget from the Office of the Vice President (OVP), Vice President Leni Robredo is making small steps if only to help alleviate the plight of poor communities by entering into partnership to launch anti-poverty programs with line agencies and the private sector. Robredo said she may look powerful because she is the second highest elective official in the land but the reality is that her office has no access to big funds in the government where she also heads one of the government offices with the smallest budget. On Thursday (March 16) last week, Robredo visited the coastal town of Tinambac in Camarines Sur to turn-over to three villages cash assistance the OVP solicited from a private firm for the purchase of boats the coastal villages could use for emergency and other purposes in connection with the functions of the barangay local government unit (LGU). Robredo said the town of Tinambac is among the first batch of 50 LGUs selected as beneficiaries of AngatBuhay Project, an anti-poverty program of the OVP. She said the beneficiaries are selected from among LGUs with “the greatest needs, [where local officials are] responsive to pro-active development, and [have the] capacity to enter into partnership on poverty alleviation program.” Robredo said that instead of giving the three beneficiary-villages the boat, they decided to give them cash so that the boat will be built in the community that would give them some earnings while making the boat. She said the OVP enters into partnership with government agencies and private entities as a strategy to finance the AngatBuhay Project. In Tinambac, the OVP partnered with the RAF International Forwarding, Inc. whose owner was her classmate in college at the University of the Philippines. Judith Azarcon, president of RAF International Forwarding, Inc., said the donation to the three villages in Tinambac is part of the corporate social responsibility (CSR) of her company. Azarcon revealed that the classmates of Robredo in UP has organized themselves into group which they called “Vice Squad” to help in the anti-poverty program. Tinambac Councilor Jonas CabilesSoltes said BarangayBani received P70,000; Daligan got P60,000; and Caloco was given P15,000. Soltes said the three barangay beneficiaries are the most isolated coastal villages in Tinambac where people can not be reached during storms. “Because of the difficulty in transportation, the OVP sees that spending the cash assistance on boat becomes the priority use. But it is not limited to that, they could also spend it [the cash] for livelihood project,” he said.