“We count to make our people feel that they really count”. This statement summed up Mayor Lina Montilla’s presentation during the 12th Community-Based Monitoring System (CBMS) National Conference held at the Crowne Plaza Manila Galleria in Quezon City from February 29 to March 2, 2016.

Mayor Montilla shared the city’s experience CBMS implementation especially on how it served as an essential guide in two aspects of local governance: policymaking and program implementation. The mayor’s presentation also highlighted the use of CBMS in the formulation of the Local Poverty Reduction Action Plan (LPRAP) as well as the allocation of the Bottom Up Budgeting (BUB) funds.

Tacurong’s successful implementation of CBMS paved way for it to be invited as resource person in the conference attended by more than 600 participants including local chief executives (LCEs), partners and other stakeholders in the national and local government units across the country.

Notably, Tacurong was also the first in Region XII to implement the CBMS Accelerated Poverty Profiling using android tablets in collecting survey data. Aside from the help of technology, the city’s success in CBMS implementation is largely credited to the integrity of the survey process. Competent enumerators and supervisors, under the close supervision of the City DILG and City Planning Office, closely coordinated with barangay leaders and health workers to reach even the farthest households and ensure the participation of the residents in the survey.

CBMS is a survey tool that collects information at the household level in the barangays for use of Local Government Units (LGUs) and other agencies for planning, program implementation, and monitoring. A major objective of CBMS is to assist in poverty reduction.

Held annually, the CBMS conference aims to provide a venue for participants to discuss current developments, findings and best practices on the implementation of CBMS. This year’s conference was organized by De La Salle University – Angelo King Institute, Partnership for Economic Policy and CBMS Network International, in partnership with the Department of the Interior and Local Government, National Economic Development Authority, and Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines.

Carrying the theme “Pursuing Meaningful Devolution through CBMS”, the conference fittingly coincided with the 25th year of the implementation of the Local Government Code, which devolved to LGUs the responsibility of delivering the services to the public that were previously under the domain of the national government.

DILG Undersecretary Austere Panadero, who represented Secretary Mel Senen Sarmiento as one of the keynote speakers in the conference, lauded the LGUs who invested in the CBMS project in their areas. He said that as more responsibilities are given to the LGUs, the local officials need evidence-based policymaking and program implementation, which the CBMS had appropriately provided.

He specifically acknowledged Mayor Montilla as one of the LCEs who effectively implemented the CBMS project, which in turn benefited her city in responding to the felt needs of the constituents.

Mayor Montilla’s presentation during the conference also elicited praises from the organizers and the participants. CBMS Network Team Leader Dr. Celia Reyes congratulated the mayor for the well-delivered sharing and even asked for a copy of the CBMS video that was used in the latter’s presentation.

Two of the mayors who also served as speakers in the conference, Atty. Gladys Razonable-Gascon of Padada in Davao del Sur and Mayor Mariano Martinez of San Remigio in Cebu , also commended Mayor Montilla for her well-prepared presentation.

One of the highlights of the conference included the recognition of six cities that successfully implemented the CBMS project in the last two years. The cities that were recognized included Tacurong, Escalante, General Trias, Tabuk, Tanauan, and Tandag.

Mayor Montilla is happy that she was able to impart Tacurong’s CBMS experience to other LGUs through the conference adding that the city’s CBMS team is very much willing to assist the LGUs that intend to embark on the said project. Recently, several municipal LGUs from the provinces of Sarangani and Cotabato had already made benchmarking activities in Tacurong. (A. Freno, LGU Tacurong City Information)