The Department of Agriculture (DA) said the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) actually helped speed up implementation of the second phase of the World Bank-supported Mindanao Rural Development Program (MRDP), which gave rise to a soon-to-commence nationwide countryside infrastructure build-up initiative called the Philippine Rural Development Program.
Acording to Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala, the DA used a total of P919.3 million from the DAP as counterpart funds to co-finance with MRDP-participating local government units (LGUs) various infrastructure projects worth P2.3 billion.
These included communal irrigation systems, farm-to-market roads, potable water facilities and single-lane bridges implemented around MRDP areas in 225 municipalities of 26 provinces across Mindanao.
“It is my obligation to tell you how the DAP funds were spent,” Alcala said.
Prior to the controversial program, MRDP was a slow-moving infrastructure and livelihood project because very few LGUs could afford the required counterpart funds, then pegged at 50 percent, the DA chief added.
To attract more takers and boost the number of realized projects, Alcala lowered the equity of the LGUs to just 10 percent, with the DA and the World Bank absorbing the combined 90 percent of the required share.
The result: From merely 15 percent participation rate among LGUs as of July 2010, proposals dramatically increased so that MDRP component projects became oversubscribed.
Proposed infrastructure projects alone, at P10.5 billion, exceeded the P4.8- billion budget, MRDP records show.
MRDP Phase 2 is now on its final stage of implementation.
Based on latest available data from the MRDP Secretariat, DAP funds were used to complete the construction and rehabilitation of communal irrigation systems (CIS) with a total service area of 3,326 hectares, and the establishment of 21 units of potable water system.
DAP funds also allowed the completion or rehabilitation of some 640.6 kilometers of farm-to-market roads (FMRs) and 377.9 linear meters of single-lane bridges and enabled MRDP to carry out and further enhance its award-winning and globally-recognized geotagging tool to monitor the progress and implementation of its projects, and prevent fraud or alternations in the project plans, the secretariat said.
Geotagging also helps prevent duplication and overlapping of identical projects by other agencies through collaboration of data.
Using its own camera software installed on tablet computers, MRDP takes pictures of its projects to gather data such as geographical coordinates, accurate dates, elevation, terrain and estimated land area.
Geotagged data are then embedded into the global positioning system-aided Google Earth, helping to detect fabricated project designs and plans that do not conform with actual field conditions, which would otherwise result in inconsistencies in information and reports.
Geotagging has in fact helped the government to save at least P200 million in funds as it enhanced transparency of project bidding and procurement, MRDP said in an earlier statement.
MRDP’s innovation topped the World Bank’s Science of Delivery Awardees in the global Procurement for Complex Situation Challenge in 2011.
“The World Bank took notice of these achievements and so we have now the PRDP in the pipeline, similar to MRDP but wider in scope as it will cover the entire country,” Alcala said.
To be bankrolled largely from World Bank loan proceeds along with counterpart funds from the LGUs and the Agriculture department, the P27.5-billion PRDP will be implemented over six years as the agency’s platform for inclusive growth and value-chain development and help create a climate-resilient agri-fisheries sector.
Two-thirds (68 percent) of PRDP funds are allotted for infrastructure projects while the remaining percentage will go to value-chain agri-fishery enterprises. It will cover all 81 provinces in 16 regions.
As an “upscale” version of the MRDP, the proposed PRDP aims to increase the agricultural and fishery productivity and incomes of small farmers and fishers through the establishment of needed infrastructure that include FMRs, bridges, CIS and potable water systems.
World Bank President Kim Jong Kim, who visited Manila, recently, said the PRDP is scheduled for presentation to the international financial institution’s board of executive directors next month.