Municipal worker activates Santander’s stakeholders, targets ‘Most Child-friendly Municipality’

Dedication to work and will power to pursue a goal sum up some people’s drive to surge ahead.

These are what powers up Santander’s Municipal Local Government Operations Officer Elvie Samson Gaudan.

The Santander’s local government officer hails from Siquijor and for a while worked in Oslob. While there, Oslob was picked the most child-friendly municipality for two years, 2014 and 2015. It also received the Seal of Child-friendly Local Governance and Seal of Good Local Governance.

Now, she has made herself the adopted daughter of the southern Cebu town, and on her own, working for Santander’s “Most Child-friendly Municipality” status in the entire province of Cebu.

The Cebu Provincial Government through the Provincial Council for the Welfare of Children (PCWC) is holding the provincial search for the “Child-Friendly Municipality 2016”.

The annual search, now on it fourth run, recognizes the vital role of the local government units (LGUs) in promoting and protecting children’s right to survival, development, protection, and participation.

Gaudan dreams for Santander to have this title. Gaudan has some ideas how a local government can transform itself to become a champion for children. She shared that to become a child-friendly LGU, everyone in the community must take part, from the highest official of the town to the grassroots level, everyone must get involved in the following areas:

  • planning and policy formation backed by a Local Development Plan for Children,
  • Local Investment Plan for Children (LIPC),
  • resource utilization for the children,
  • additional funds for children generated/sourced out from external sources,
  • health center certified as Sentrong Sigla,
  • fully immunized children,
  • presence of a solid waste management plan,
  • access to a pre-school, elementary, and high school,
  • alternative education of out-of-school youth,
  • reported cases are addressed immediately,
  • children in conflict with the law are handled appropriately,
  • functional committees that meet at least once a month and complete with work and financial plan and accomplishment report,
  • child participation through the presence of organized other youth/children’s organization (other than SK) recognized by the LGU, and
  • any recognized or accredited people’s organization, non-government organization, civic group, association of professionals and related associations that are actively involved in children’s welfare.

The criteria for the barangay level include a functional Barangay Council for the Protection of Children (BCPC), children’s organization, justice system, health and nutrition system, Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) center, child-friendly schools, and community-managed knowledge dissemination and exchange system addressing issues concerning children.

For the search, ten evaluators from the different government agencies and departments of the Cebu Provincial Capitol already conducted an evaluation starting Feb. 16 in the southern part of Cebu and also in the municipalities of Bantayan Island.

Sixteen municipalities and two cities have already been evaluated, including Sta. Fe, Bantayan, Madridejos, San Remegio, Dalaguete, Argao, Sibonga, San Fernando, Boljoon, Alcoy, Oslob, Santander, Samboan, Ginatilan, Malabuyoc, Alegria, Naga, and Carcar.

After evaluating the 18 out of 44 municipalities and seven component cities in the province, some towns have passed the criteria for the said search, including Santander.

“I served as the persuasive motivator and innovator. I motivate firstly the leaders, get the mayor to convene his/her officials and department heads, orientated them as to the significance of the search and from there, I got everyone to commit themselves to do their part,” Gaudan said.

“I studied all the indicators, made separate letters for everyone concerned to prepare all the data and documentation of implemented programs. They submit it to me and I collate everything. I made the total package write-up,” she explained.

While some LGUs do not have active BCPCs, Gaudan who newly transferred to Santander, is closely monitoring the functionality of the town’s BCPC.

“I initially convened the punong barangays and have mandated them to functionalize their BCPC. Programs and activities for children are already in place. What is lacking is the documentation of every activity conducted; now they are all aware of its importance,” she said.

Her strategies to ensure the functionality of BCPC is to mandate all barangays to prepare and submit their work and financial plan  for children, submit monthly BCPC minutes of meetings with attendance  and submit quarterly accomplishment for children with corresponding documentations like agenda, photo documentation, resolution and other legislative measures supporting the activities.

Gaudan is hoping that the municipality of Santander will win in this year’s search because she saw how its people are working so hard for the children.

“I make it a point  to sit down with the officials during their session and see them eye to eye to persuade  them to do their respective roles to ensure that our children are well protected and cared for,” she said.

The evaluation will end in September 2016.

In the last year’s search, Talisay City, Oslob and Cordova were among the winner.

The conduct of the search for Child-Friendly Municipalities and Cities every year is in pursuant to Executive Order 184 series of 1999 or “Establishing the Presidential Award for the Child Friendly Municipalities.”