BAGUIO CITY – A total of 164 newly elected and re-elected municipal mayors and local disaster risk reduction and management officers (LDRRMOs) from the region took part in the three-day and first-ever Newly Elected Officials Plus (NEO+) Training Program of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Cordillera that aims to develop their strategic direction setting and planning competencies and to immerse them in the challenges confronted by their communities in terms of local governance, the current pandemic, upcoming crises, and the challenges of full devolution in the region.
“This three-day training is part of Component 3 of the NEO Program dubbed as “Creating the Roadmap for LGU Development” which aims to help our LGUs improve their crisis management strategies, address interagency concerns, and combat insurgency,” DILG CAR Regional Director Araceli San Jose said.
Adding, “This also forms part of our commitment to the Cordillera Regional Development Council in echoing our continued campaign for regional autonomy, which is included in our selection of special topics,” she said.
San Jose underscored that the activity aims to prepare the participants in taking up their tasks and responsibilities as political leaders and area development managers specifically in disaster preparedness and response, managing infectious diseases, dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, and other crisis and to gain valuable insights on how to harness the power of data and capitalize on multi-stakeholder convergence in promoting development in their respective LGUs through the special topics discussed by selected regional line agencies.
“The pandemic has served as a litmus test on our leaders and it has brought out the best in some by facilitating our LGUs’ ability to adapt to the changes and develop innovative solutions in managing the impacts of the pandemic,” she said.
San Jose also recalled the 6.7 magnitude earthquake on July 27, 2022 critically impacted parts of the region which necessitates the LGUs to revisit and scale up their respective DRRM plans and to ensure that all their corresponding facilities are in place and ready to respond during disasters.
“Hindi natin pwedeng i-asa na lamang ito sa “resilience” ng ating mga mamamayan. Kailangan itong tapatan ng pamahalaang lokal na handa, may plano, at may solusyon (We cannot just rely on the “resilience” of our people. It needs to be corresponded by the local government that is ready, has a plan, and solution),” she said.
She added that considering the disaster-prone topography of the Cordilleras and its years-long bout against the COVID-19 pandemic, the leaders are challenged by the times, but this is also a way to prove that great leaders can transform perceived adversities into opportunities.
“This is the brand of leadership that we want in the Cordillera: Innovative Leadership that has foresight, and leadership that puts an utmost premium on the safety and security of their constituents while remaining faithful to the pursuit of accountable, transparent, and participative good local governance,” she underscored.
San Jose also shared her optimism that this training will help build the roadmap for Cordillera LGUs’ holistic development with special emphasis on disaster-resilience and crisis management.
“Overall, this learning activity aims to build strategic leaders out of elected officials who would lead their local governments to become competitive, efficient, and responsive institutions for development during challenging times,” she said. By BLM