Sta. Josefa, Agusan del Sur – Charisma is a distinct art form that allows someone to wield power without using coercion. It is a very handy tool for a leader to have, as he can use it to influence people.

Charisma, however, is not enough to make a good leader effective leadership is a combination of charm, knowledge and experience, traits that are exemplified by one mayor who is trailblazing his advocacy to involve his constituents in addressing development issues in their humble town.

In his 21 years of serving the people, Mayor Glenn M. Plaza just knows exactly how to engage his people and move about his jurisdiction to ensure a hundred percent participation from his constituents in advancing an improved quality of life. This knowledge enabled him to act accordingly when his municipality was bestowed with a grant from the Spanish government with their anti-poverty program Poder through the Agencia Española Cooperacion Internacional para el Desarollo (AECID) implemented by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) so they can make the most out of it.

The project which is now operating for the second year in the municipality of Sta. Josefa aimed at providing poor communities in Caraga region with the basic health and education services parallels with the mayor’s dreams for his townsfolk especially that the town has a total number of 1,501 active beneficiaries of Pantawid Pamilya who directly benefit from the infrastructure projects of Poder.

The local government unit of Sta. Josefa cannot emphasize enough its gratitude for the Poder project that has helped a lot for those disadvantaged in life, Plaza said highlighting the importance of the project in providing the supply side of Pantawid Pamilya.

The successful implementation of Pantawid Pamilya and Sustainable Livelihood Program augmenting poor families, the introduction of Poder in our town saw the rise of suitable health stations, day care centers, and school buildings that beneficiaries and non-beneficiaries alike enjoy, Plaza added.

Poder follows the community-driven development (CDD) approach of another anti-poverty project called Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan – Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services (Kalahi-CIDSS). The strategy believes in the empowerment of the citizenry in order to combat poverty by giving them the opportunity to implement sub-projects they have identified as what they need.

 

Community first

Only in its second year in the area, the implementers were astonished when mayor Plaza flawlessly delivered the project’s orientation to all partner stakeholders when he was asked to do it. They were even more surprised when he exhorted them to become actively involved in the process.

The success of the project lies in the participation of all involved stakeholders by contributing their time in all the activities the project is asking of. In that way the complex intricacies of the process of the project can easily be understood, Plaza, who is a believer of a bottom-up approach in decision-making, shared.

As a CDD project, Poder ensures that the communities are given the key position to identify problems in their barangays and identifying the solutions to these problems through barangay assemblies and council consultations.

The mayor sees his attendance to every activity of the project vital, because his presence in these events entices the villagers to participate in these.

For Mayor Plaza, serving the people remains his top priority. He makes it a point that he attends every activity the project staff sets.

This did become apparent when Mayor Plaza conducted the first barangay assembly in Brgy. Concepcion when the barangay captain of this village suffered from a heart ailment.

Nelly Patubo, 48, the barangay sub-project management committee (BSPMC) chairperson can attest to this saying that the encouragement mayor Plaza gives them is very humbling and in observing one instance of such propriety she said: He was there side-by-side with the staffs from DSWD conducting the assembly — all eyes were on him. It really is different when the person we elected for office is soliciting for our opinions and listening intently; it’s as if the opinion of someone who has not even received education is just as important as the educated individual sitting beside that person.

This is essentially their project, and that is why we value our volunteers. Their time is of primary importance to us as they are at the core of the implementation. The LGU is just here to sail them through successfully reaching their destination we call development, Plaza mused.

 

Championing CDD

When Poder was introduced to the municipality of Sta. Josefa, the whole community expressed their joy however when it was clarified that the project entailed a counterpart from them, a deafening uproar soon followed.

Luckily regional director Mercedita P. Jabagat was there to explain, such commotion from people in the communities is inevitable and understandable especially during the first launching of the project since they were accustomed to the idea that a grant given to the government for them is a dole out is what they have grown accustomed to and the project is changing that misconception.

The mayor couldn’t agree more and concurred that when talking about sustainable development, we don’t just give it to them for ‘free’ as they have a major stake in the development process — we capacitate and empower them to build their dreams and by doing so, a sense of ownership is inculcated in them.

According to him, witnessing different special projects come into fruition since his days as councilor and now as the local chief executive in his town, his assumed role for Poder is completely new to him. Never in his position would he be seeing himself learning the basics of a new implementation scheme and learning from his people.

In chance meetings with fellow mayors in the province, he couldn’t help but promote the success and accomplishments of his town in the implementation of Poder; that it encouraged more mothers and students to visit the facilities regularly, that it created humble jobs for some households holding positions as skilled workers, and easing the access to these infrastructures or sub-projects from their homes.

Advocating for development he says is now easier with this pioneering technology of CDD. The objectives of Poder in empowering communities and improving local governance are the very arsenal in combating poverty. He went on to assert that the project is very ideal in a bottom-up framework in development projects and so he is ardently wishing that more CDD projects would come his way.

Serving the public is a top priority for this champion mayor and for him, implementing Poder is a very intimate affair. He makes it a point that he attends every activity the project staffs sets. He says that the frequency of his attendance and interaction to the communities has established a certain kind of intimacy he shares with his family.

With this kind of exposure that he is afforded of the project, mayor Plaza who is usually seen not without a welcoming grin on his face might as well run for a second term.

If this was an ideal world, all LGUs in the country should adopt the Poder process as it makes for a convenient election campaign what with all the activities occupying most of the time spent in the communities in a calm and noncompetitive manner, Plaza kidded around in what seemed to be a hint of a half-meant joke to his staff.

A chance of serving his people and a third year of implementing another CDD project may just be around the corner for this charming and benevolent trailblazer. ### (Social Marketing Unit)