Making change felt at grassroots level » Manila Bulletin News

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Dr. Jesus P. Estanislao

By Jesus P. Estanislao

 

It is always heart-warming for anyone to see a plan, on paper, being put into practice out in the field. This was the privilege that Commodore Bacordo was given when he was assigned as commander of Naval Forces Southern Luzon. When he took up his command in February, 2016, Team Albay Countryside Development Caravan (TACDEC) Task Force had already been working for three years. And although Commodore Bacordo was steeped in the doctrine behind the Internal Peace and Security Plan (IPSP) Bayanihan of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), he really had no hand in creating the TACDEC Task Force: this was the creation of the governor of the Province of Albay. But it certainly helped that there was complete convergence between the two “approaches,” which demanded participation, stakeholder involvement, and team work, including between the public and private sectors, for the benefit of the marginalized sectors of society.

As soon as he assumed command of Naval Forces Southern Luzon, Commodore Bacordo hit the ground running by getting the Navy more involved in the TACDEC Task Force activities. He narrates: “Between February and June 2016, the Navy participated in four such outreach initiatives, namely: to Bgy. Baligang in Camalig; Bgy. Inarado in Daraga; the Poblacion in Rapu-Rapu Island; and Cabasan Elementary School in Cagraray Island. In all these outreach programs, the AFP provided land and sea transport services, along with the deployment of its medical and dental teams, the offering of electrical appliance repair services as well as hair cut services; interestingly, the AFP also offered video showings, which proved a real hit. Previous to these four outreach initiatives in the first half of 2016, the AFP had already participated in 14 other TACDEC deployments that benefited close to 25,000 individuals.” The numbers may look small from the macro, national standpoint. But the impact on the ground was tremendous: the people in far-flung areas saw and experienced change in the way government serves. By these “deployments,” government showed the people that it truly cared for them, and that it was genuine in its interest to help those that are difficult to cater to and serve.

Commodore Bacordo hit an emotional high during the TACDEC outreach to Baligang Elementary School in Bgy. Baligang, the municipality of Camalig. He reports: “I was overwhelmed by emotion to see IPSP Bayanihan in action. The outreach was spearheaded by the local government unit, in this case the Province of Albay. This was what IPSP Bayanihan is about: the military is in a supporting role; the lead role is reserved for the Local Government Unit (LGU). Indeed, the military has no personality to chair a ‘whole of government’ approach to local peace and development. It is just logical that in the case of a province, the Provincial Governor should chair the outreach initiative and take the lead role.”

He continues: “Peace and development are multi-dimensional; and all these dimensions need close synchronization. For instance there are government councils such as the Provincial Peace and Order Council and the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council. These councils are already chaired by the Provincial Governor; so it is logical that the governor is given the responsibility for over-all coordination of the multi-dimensional initiatives aimed at promoting peace and development in the province.” While the military is called upon to provide assistance, it is best that it works under — and together with — the civilian local authorities.

By seeing the AFP’s IPSP Bayanihan in this light, Commodore Bacordo contributes this concluding comment on forging “alliances for social responsibility.” He states: “TACDEC is one of the most effective and efficient strategies towards attaining peace and development in the countryside, and towards winning the peace while promoting prosperity. Through the many humanitarian efforts undertaken together under TACDEC, we were able to create an environment of positive sustainable change in the Province of Albay.” He did not fail to notice that perhaps the most important transformation was in the mind-set: of the AFP, focusing on the wider dimension of winning the peace; and of the local people on their perception of government as one that genuinely cares for their welfare.

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