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Committee on Rural Development TWG approves resolution to extend SAAD

QUEZON CITY, February 15, 2021 – The Philippine House Committee on Rural Development (PHCRD) Technical Working Group (TWG) approved the House Resolution No. 1421 (HR 1421)- authored by Congresswoman Representative Elisa `Olga´ T. Kho – for endorsement to the mother committee.

Chaired by the Representative of the 1st district, Samar Edgar Mary S. Sarmiento, the HR 1421 titled “A Resolution Strongly Urging the House Leadership through the Committee on Rural Development to Extend the Implementation of the Department of Agriculture’s Special Area for Agricultural Development Program (DA-SAAD) for Six Years from 2023 to 2028” was reviewed during the TWG meeting via video conference call.

The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) through their representatives expressed their support for the extension of the program.

DA Undersecretary for Operations Ariel T. Cayanan explained that the program is rolled out based on the PSA poverty incidence data of its target beneficiaries (2012 data for FY 2017 beneficiaries and 2015 data for the FYs 2018 and 2019).

Also, the Regional Field Offices (RFOs) are the main actors in implementing the program guided by the National Program Management Office (NPMO), and that through social preparation, the identified beneficiaries receive livelihood projects which are monitored by the implementers.

Usec. Cayanan added that SAAD is currently undergoing a Midterm Assessment, addressing the concern of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA). NEDA recommended that an assessment should be conducted to analyze the gaps in the implementation of the program to use as a justification for the extension.

The study, led by the Don Mariano Marcos Memorial State University, is evaluating SAAD’s contribution to its FY 2017 and 2018 covered provinces. It commenced in January 2021 and is expected to be completed in August.

Answering the inquiry of Congressman Sarmiento, SAAD Program Director Myer G. Mula stated 80% of the Php 4.5 billion funds was spent on livelihood projects, while 20% was allocated for the program management office (PMO) activities from 2017 to 2020.

As of January, the SAAD has already reached 134,153 individuals and 3,415 groups with 87,621 members.

Usec. Cayanan reiterated that the purpose of SAAD is to alleviate poverty which means that it does not duplicate, but rather complements the DA regular programs.

The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) is concerned on the financial performance of the SAAD Program from 2017 to 2020, particularly its disbursements. DBM will base its evaluation on the “merits and the established organizational staffing and position classification policies rules and regulations” once the Congress approves the extension of the program.

Usec. Cayanan assured that SAAD will regularly update on the progress addressing its disbursement. He also mentioned that the program is continuously upscaling and strengthening, and the NPMO and PMO are not only present in the distribution of the interventions, but also evaluate the effect of the implementation on the farmers and fishers.

The Chairperson of the PHCRD Rep. Elisa “Olga” Kho (2nd District, Masbate), accepted the amendment recommending the deletion in HR 1421 of the “whereas clause” that requires the hiring of coterminous manpower who are experienced and trained in the implementation. Rep. Godofredo Guya (Party-List, RECOBODA) believes that the personnel who will implement the program should be accorded permanent positions.

The 2023-2028 SAAD roadmap was required by the TWG. This will include the annual interventions and livelihood projects, its target individuals and areas, and the budget which will be presented to the mother committee. ###

Writer: Natalianne Marie O. Delos Reyes, PR and Comms Officer- SAAD NPMO

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