Columnist wrong on NAPC’s work

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It may be Neal Cruz’s opinion that “NAPC has not done anything to help the poor” (Inquirer, 2/11/13), but it cannot possibly be my opinion. Otherwise, I would have been fired by now. I am the “top unimpeachable (?) official of NAPC” that Cruz spoke with. The National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC) does not directly run antipoverty programs. Its main task is to support organizations of the poor, the 14 sectors covered by the commission, in dealing with government. One concrete recent example is the support we provided to coconut farmers in relating with the Department of Agrarian Reform. This support enabled them to secure certificates of land ownership award to 480 hectares.

We also work at designing or redesigning antipoverty programs. The most important is our work with the Bottom-Up Budgeting program where organized poor people work with municipal governments in planning local poverty reduction plans. Around P10 billion is provided for these programs in the 2013 national budget. We also have programs for urban poor, indigenous people, fisherfolk and coconut farmers. These are interagency programs where NAPC often is the secretariat.

Cruz’s power of recall may have failed him in this instance. What I did say is that an antipoverty program for poor coconut farmers has not yet been approved by President Aquino, so no money has been, at this point, appropriated. We are proposing that the program be funded out of national budget savings considering that the coco levy funds are not yet available.

—JOEL ROCAMORA
secretary, National Anti-Poverty Commission
ATI Bldg, Elliptical Road, Quezon City

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