by Ronna Marie Badua

October 18, 2016 – In response to poverty reduction and climate change mitigation, the House of Congress expresses their unified confidence on the institutionalization of the National Convergence Initiative for Sustainable Rural Development (NCI-SRD) as the key to addressing the fragmented delivery of services to the underdeveloped countryside.

As agreed during the Organizational Meeting of the House Committee on Rural Development chaired by Hon.  Deogracias B. Ramos, Jr. from the 2nd District of Sorsogon last October 18, 2016 at Ramon Mitra Bldg, House of Representatives, the committee shall push for the passage of the National Convergence Act of 2016 this 17thcongress.

Other members of the committee present during the meeting were: Vice Chair Hon. Henedina R. Abad from the Lone District of Batanes; Vice Chair Hon. Ma. Lourdes R. Aggabao from the 4th District of Isabela; Hon. Evelina G. Escudero from the 1st District of Sorsogon; and Hon. Rodante D. Marcoleta from the 1-SAGIP Party-list. Representatives from NEDA, DSWD, DOLE, DILG, PRDP and the NCI Secretariat were also present.

 

Through the said bill, the committee envisions the NCI as a powerful/strong implementing institution that shall spearhead the harmonization of plans of programs and projects primary of the four rural development agencies in collaboration with other National Government agencies in achieving a holistic development in the countryside.

One of the salient features of the said bill includes the Creation of the National Convergence Initiative Administration (NCIA) which shall be the primary coordinating body of the NCI-SRD in the effective and harmonious implementation of the different projects and programs of DA-DAR-DENR and DILG (sic). It shall likewise have the following principal powers and functions among others:

a)       Formulate sustainable rural development framework and recommend to the board necessary adjustments;

b)       Integrate, harmonize and oversee the implementation of the convergence initiative plans and programs of the Sub-National Technical Working Groups (TWG); and

c)       Recommend to the Executive Board the operational plans, programs, and guidelines relevant to the NCI framework.

The said house bill was initially filed in 2011 but it was not approved during the 15th congress. It was refiled in 2013 during the 16th Congress and has only passed the 3rd Level of the Committee Reading.

At present, the Converge House Bill was again filed by Hon. Anna Katrina M. Envarga, Congresswoman of the 1stDistrict of Quezon as the principal author as House Bill 2258 otherwise known as “An Act Institutionalizing the Convergence Strategy For Sustainable Rural Development, Providing the Implementing Mechanism Therefore, And For Other Purposes”.

The next House Committee meeting is scheduled on November 22, 2016 in which an assessment regarding the current status of developments within the convergences site around the country will be conducted. The NCI will also present a color-coded map to illustrate which area is highly developed among the existing convergence sites per requested by the National Economic and Development Authority.