The first Agrarian Reform Community (ARC) Cluster in Central Visayas was launched In Bohol on the 182nd Sumad sa Balilihan, hometown of Gov. Edgar Chatto whom agrarian officials call the anti-poverty project’s staunchest lobbyist.
It is aptly called the CABATUANS ARC Cluster covering the towns of Catigbian, Balilihan, Tubigon, Antequera and San Isidro, which can all possibly get more aids from foreign sources according to Department of Agrarian reform (DAR) Asec. Felix Perry Villanueva.
Villanueva came for Sec. Virgilio delos Reyes to launch, together with Chatto and the mayors of the five beneficiary towns, the cluster during Balilihan’s founding anniversary on Wednesday, September 29.
Mayors Roberto Salinas of Catigbian, Dominisio Chatto of Balilihan, William Jao of Tubigon, Jose Mario Pahang of Antequera and Jacinto Naraga of San Isidro signed the memorandum of agreement on the project.
Villanueva said Balilihan and Tubigon are envisioned to be the provinceâ€™s vegetable capital, Catigbian a world-class livestock auction market in the country, and Antequera and San isidro to sustain its showcase of handicrafts. They complement each other in terms of marine and farm products, livestock and crafts.
The DAR-Bohol had submitted four ARC clusters, but the CABATUANS was the first to be confirmed by the ARC National Task Force last July.
The three other ARC clusters respectively involve the towns of Ubay, Trinidad and Talibon; Alicia, Pilar, Carmen, Sierra-Bullones, San Miguel and Dagohoy; and Bilar, Batuan, Dimiao and Loboc.
The ARC clustering is a multi-development approach involving livelihood, employment infrastructure, agriculture and food production, education, health, environment and other vital concerns.
The Agrarian Reform Community Development Project (ARCDP) had then focused on Negros province until Chatto, then a congressman, lobbied for it in his district in Bohol—first in Tubigon, and then in Catigbian and Balilihan.
Bohol was a recipient of multi-million-peso projects from foreign aids thru DAR and the towns benefited from them.
Foreign sources included the Belgian Integrated Agrarian Reform Support Project (BIARSP), World Bank-assisted Second Agrarian Reform Communities Development Project (ARCDP-2) and Philippine-Australia Technical Support on Agrarian Reform and Rural Development (PATSARRD).
Villanueva said DAR-Bohol has a current foreign support under the Agrarian Reform Infrastructure Support Project Phase III (ARISP-3), which proposed beneficiaries are Alicia, Balilihan, Catigbian and Danao.
Even without foreign donors, Villanueva said the the DAR and the province under Chatto, with the support of the LGUs, people’s organizations and the agrarian farmers, will keep the ARC project moving to masses’ welfare.
The CABATUANS Cluster, an expanded ARC, was launched in the presence, too, of DAR Regional Dir. Rodolfo Inson, PARO Antonio del Socorro, DENR Regional Dir. Leonardo Sibbaluca and PENRO Nestor Canda.
Board Member Cesar Tomas Lopez represented Rep. Rene Relampagos, to whose First District the CABATUANS cluster mainly belongs, except for the town of San Isidro which is already in the Second District.
The launching highlighted the 182nd Sumad sa Balilhan, during which was also the agreement signing on the DReAMS Project between the LGU, province, Bohol Local Development Foundation (BLDF) and Real;ising DReAMS Project Office represented by project manager Dr. Nestor Pestelos.
The DReAMS or Development of Resources and Access to Municipal Services, another poverty reduction effort, institutionalizes the Poverty Database Monitoring System (PDMS). In Balilihan, it will tap the townâ€™s award-winning purok system as one mechanism or reference point.
Vice Gov. Concepcion Lim and Board Members Abeleon Damalerio, Godofreda Tirol, Romulo Cepedoza, Brigido Imboy and Crispina Vergara, who is the Bohol president of the Association of Barangay Councils (ABC), and League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP-Bohol) president Loay Mayor Rosemarie Imboy also turned up in Balilihan on Sumad.