CBMS and evidence-based planning and decision-making

It is easy to make a plan but difficult to develop one that addresses a specific concern that is not based on accurate data or information. A case in point is a local government unit (LGU) from Mindanao, which could no longer benefit from programs of a funding organization because the former failed to deliver a vaccination project with at least 1,000 children up to five years old as beneficiaries. Because the target was not based on verifiable data, the LGU could only vaccinate around 600 children, some of whom were not even qualified because they were already seven years old.

To prevent similar incidents from happening, the Philippine Government enacted Republic Act 11315, otherwise known as the Community-Based Monitoring System (CBMS) Act. The law aims to ensure that LGUs will have a concrete and verifiable basis for a comprehensive poverty analysis and needs prioritization. With the CBMS Act, it is expected that data collection, data sharing, and information management will be systematized. CBMS is defined as the “organized technology-based system of collecting, processing and validating necessary disaggregated data that may be used for planning, program implementation and impact monitoring at the local level while empowering communities to participate in the process.”

It is not a new system and has existed since 1994 with the pioneering efforts of Dr. Celia Reyes of the Angelo King Institute of the De la Salle University (AKI-DLSU). Seeing the potential of CBMS to address the need for localized poverty-related data, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC) entered into a partnership with AKI-DLSU and became advocates of the system. The partnership was a success and became instrumental to the development of local programs that cost less but produce long-term results.

A case in point is the CBMS implementation in Bongao, Tawi-Tawi which led to the counting of the Badjaos — a group of indigenous people known as sea gypsies, living either in small houseboats or houses on stilts built along the shores. In 2015, the Badjao population in Bongao numbered 3,650 and of this number, only 15% were registered. Because of their non-registration, the Badjaos had difficulty accessing services and programs, particularly those that require a proof of identification. Using this data from the CBMS and knowing the location of the unregistered Badjaos, then Mayor Jasper Que conducted a civil registration program — a simple activity with almost no additional cost to the local government. With birth certificates in their possessions, the Badjaos were able to access local and National Government programs, including the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) and PhilHealth.

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