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DSWD, Petron ink P3-M grant for livelihood programs for Guimaras

April 3, 2007

THE Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and Petron Foundation recently inked a partnership agreement for the implementation of alternative livelihood programs for Guimarasnons affected by the oil spill incident.

Petron Foundation Executive Director Marilou Erni handed the check of P3-million to DSWD Field Office 6 OIC Regional Director Teresita S. Rosales March 30 during a roundtable discussion held at the Iloilo Grand Hotel here. The P3-million initial grant, Erni said, is part of the rehabilitation efforts especially for residents in Sibunag and Nueva Valencia, Guimaras.

“The Stage 1 of the oil spill cleanup on shorelines has now been completed through our Cash for Work program. But now, there is a need to focus our efforts in helping our displaced fisherfolks through alternative livelihood and rehabilitation activities,” Rosales said.

Under the agreement, DSWD will spearhead in the social preparation and community organizing aspect in coming up with livelihood projects, utilizing the Self-Employment Assistance-Kaunlaran (SEA-K) scheme. SEA-K is a community-based credit assistance program aimed to build the capability of the economically-active poor to pursue micro-entrepreneurial activities.

Rosales said at present, sustaining the seaweed farming in the municipality of Sibunag has been identified as alternative livelihood while in Nueva Valencia, geotextile production was proposed. She added that DSWD will closely coordinate with the Provincial Economic and Development Office (PEDO) of Guimaras under Engr. Ruben Corpus as to the viability of the proposed projects.

PEDO heads the economic cluster of rehabilitation activities for Guimaras.

During last Friday’s discussion, Jose Divinagracia of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in Guimaras presented the concept of geotextile or the “coconet.” One reason for the proposal, he said, is the availability and abundance of coconut in Nueva Valencia.

“There is a huge demand of coconet in the world market and the country cannot meet such demand. Considering that there are so many coconut trees in Nueva Valencia, going into geotextile is a good option for fisherfolks,” said Divinagracia even as he cited this is the first time that line agencies of the government have converged together to come up with livelihood projects.

Rosales said that aside from the P3-million donation from Petron Foundation, DSWD is also awaiting the release of the P250-million supplemental budget for the rehabilitation of Guimaras.

In November 2006, Petron Foundation also signed a partnership agreement with DSWD, TESDA, DOST and DTI for the conduct of livelihood programs and capability-building and skills training for Guimarasnons under a P1.5-million funding. (ALJ, The Daily Guardian, April 3, 2007)

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