PCW, NEDA, and COA hold First GAD Budget Forum for Northern Mindanao

In an aim to help strengthen Gender and Development (GAD) programs in the localities, the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW) and the Regional Development Council 10 – Regional Gender and Development Committee (RDC-X RGADC) conducted a virtual GAD Budget Forum on September 28, 2021, the first of its kind in the region.

In this regional herstory, 150 participants from the Regional Line Agencies (RLAs), Government-Owned and Controlled Corporations (GOCCs), and State Universities and Colleges (SUCs) joined the discussion as they prepare their GPBs for 2022.

Director Mylah Faye Aurora B. Cariño, NEDA-X Regional Director  noted the importance of integrating gender lens in government’s programs, activities, and projects, through GAD planning and budgeting.

“Gender and Development (GAD) Planning and Budgeting is not just a technical process. It is a political tool to push the government to address gender issues and allocate resources,” Director Cariño said.

In his welcome remarks, Central Mindanao University President Dr. Jesus Antonio G. Derije, who chairs RDC-X RGADC, encouraged everyone to be faithful to the mandate of gender equality and women’s empowerment to attain development and peace in the region.

Department of Budget and Management-CARAGA Assistant Director Paul Abarca discussed the concepts, guidelines, and procedures for the efficient and timely preparation of agency GPB, highlighting its elements and the process.

Meanwhile, PCW’s Supervising GAD Specialist, Ms. Josephine Khaleen M. Sasuman, expounded on the provisions of PCW Memorandum Circular 2021-04, with emphasis on the process for 2022 GPB preparation, submission, review, and endorsement. 

Integral to the GPB and equally important to note is the proper and judicious use of GAD funds.  State Auditor III Ms. Indira Carpio of the Commission on Audit (COA) Region X shed light on this when she discussed COA Circular 2014-01 or the Guidelines in the Audit of GAD Fund and Activities in Government Agencies.

“Economy, efficiency, effectiveness, and responsiveness of interventions to the gender issues identified” are some of the considerations when COA reviews an agency’s GPB, Ms. Carpio explained. 

She also shared the common observations in COA’s GAD Fund Audit as well as some reminders on the expenses that can and cannot be charged to the GAD Budget.

One of the participants, Dr. Maria Teresa M. Fajardo, GAD Focal Person of the University of Science and Technology of Southern Philippines, shared that the sessions will help them develop a good program design to provide what is best for all genders. 

“I can now articulate better to our GFPS our strategies and understand how we should proceed to be better in GAD Plan and Budget and GAD AR preparation. I realized that there are many things that should be in place for successful gender mainstreaming. I am now seriously reading GAD materials so that I can be better in my role as GAD focal person. I am grateful to the men and women behind this capability building,” Dr. Fajardo said.

GAD Plan and Budget: Beyond numbers and mere compliance

The Magna Carta of Women (RA 9710) mandates all government offices to use at least 5% of their annual budget for programs, projects, and activities that address GAD issues within their respective sectors and mandates. The PCW, as the national machinery for gender equality and women’s empowerment (GEWE), monitors the implementation of the GAD budget policy, ensuring its proper utilization.

The PCW has been steadfast in guiding agencies in their preparation of their GPBs. On September 11, 2021, the PCW issued “Memorandum Circular 2021-04: Preparation and Online Submission of Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 Gender and Development (GAD) Plans and Budgets”.  

Ahead of this submission, the PCW, in partnership with the RGADCs, holds regional GAD Budget Fora, anchored on the annual National GAD Budget Fora. These serve as venues for GOCCs, RLAs, and SUCs to be capacitated on GAD and be clarified on issues and concerns encountered in the preparation and implementation of annual GAD Plans and Budgets and GAD Accomplishment Reports.

In closing the event, PCW’s Chief GAD Specialist Ms. Nharleen Santos-Millar, speaking on behalf of PCW Executive Director Atty. Kristine Rosary E. Yuzon-Chaves, thanked all the partners that helped the participants understand the core and intricacies of GPBs.

“The PCW enjoins all of you as public servants to veer away from limiting our efforts for the sake of compliance, but instead push the government to address gender issues and concerns and allocate resources accordingly and mainstream GAD in your organization’s systems and processes as well as major or flagship programs so that it will all be worth our efforts, time and resources. As such, our goal should not be within the limits of the 5% allocated GAD budget, but should rather be making our entire agency budget gender-responsive,” she noted.

Ms. Santos-Millar likewise acknowledged the RDC-X RGADC Secretariat headed by NEDA X for the successful preparation and coordination with the agencies in the Region, as she leaves a challenge to all GOCCs, RLAs, and SUCs in Northern Mindanao: Ensure that no man, woman, or child is left behind in our pursuit for gender-responsive progress and development.

For more information on the GAD Plan and Budget, go here.

The Philippine Commission on Women is gearing towards the establishment of regional cluster field offices, beginning with the piloting of its North Mindanao Field Office (NMFO). Based in Cagayan de Oro City, the NMFO was established in August 2021 and covers the geographical area of Region 9 (Zamboanga Peninsula), Region 10 (Northern Mindanao), and Region 13 (Caraga). The field office, with its closer coordination with subnational level, aims to localize the Magna Carta of Women through influencing the gender responsiveness of and providing GAD-related technical assistance to regional line agencies and LGUs. Stakeholders in these regions may reach them through email: mindanaofo@pcw.gov.ph. The North Mindanao field office is located at Unit 206, Tomas Saco Scapes, Tomas Saco Street, Cagayan de Oro City.