Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Secretary Wendel Avisado shared that the fight against communist groups can be addressed by empowering local governments units (LGUs), especially barangays, through the implementation of programs and building infrastructure that are designed to uplift the lives of members of the community.
DBM Secretary Avisado and Davao City Councilor Danny Dayanghirang—who both served as lawmakers in the Davao City Council—emphasized the importance of having continuous dialogues with stakeholders coupled with community-based services by the LGUs and the military as mainly instrumental in addressing the communist insurgency problem in Davao.
“Hindi pwedeng puro salita lang tayo. Kailangan talaga nakikita sa gawa... Kaya ito nga, importante ang programang sinusulong ng ating pamahalaan,” Avisado said.
Avisado, who is also Cabinet Officer for Regional Development and Security (CORDS) of Region XI, also shared that his experiences with President Duterte in Davao City—particularly in empowering and building the confidence of grassroot level units such as the barangay—is being implemented now under the Duterte Administration so that government services will become more quick and responsive and effective.
“Yun ang talagang prinsipyong inaadopt na natin ngayon para talaga ma-empower ang ating mga LGUs, maging responsable sila,” he said.
Meanwhile, Dayanghirang also shared that Paquibato District in Davao City was once a hotbed of communist insurgency with some NPA members even operating inside urban centers. It was only during the term of then mayor and now President Rodrigo Roa Duterte that it was lessened.
“Ito ay napahinto ni President Duterte when he was the mayor. Dumaan din kami ng hirap dito. But now, with the President and Mayor Sara Duterte, tuloy tuloy na ang development ng lungsod ng Davao,” Dayanghirang said.
He mentioned three approaches that worked in Davao City could serve as a guide for LGUs in addressing the decades-long insurgency problem: (1) humanize the conflict by avoiding the use of arms; (2) fast-track the implementation of projects; and (3) ensure a solid teamwork between the LGUs and the AFP. He said that the general framework that was pioneered years ago by President Duterte is still being followed today with just a few added provisions.
Dayanghirang also commended Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio for launching Peace 911—a peacebuilding and development initiative of the local government of Davao. This program aims to bring government services down to the grassroot levels so that affected communities could feel the government’s presence and realize them as partners in peace building.
“Yung nagtake-over si Mayor Sara, gumawa siya ng innovation, ng isang sistema kung saan andoon lahat ng sumbungan ng mga tao sa barangay. Peace 911 is a platform where everyone can get in and not dominated by military. Gradually, nagbunga ito, nakuha ang kompyansa ng mga tao. And I know because of that, also with the aggressive program of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, maraming nag-surrender,” he said.
When asked what are the other best practices that are being implemented in Davao City which could be emulated in other parts of the Philippines, the councilor said that their local leaders’ presence must really be felt by the people.
He said that just like her father, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio regularly and directly updates her constituents and the city’s residents through her radio and TV program. This way, the citizens feel that they are being guided and led, especially in times of crisis.