Closing Ceremony, Central Cordillera Institution-Building Progam Trust Fund
18 March 2009, Banaue, Ifugao
Remarks by Ambassador Alistair MacDonald, European Commission
Friends, colleagues, partners for sustainable rural development in the Central Cordillera -
good morning to you all !
I am delighted to be back here again, in the centre of the Cordilleras, and to be with you
to commemorate the closing of the Central Cordillera Institution-Building Program Trust
Fund (or CCIBPTF, supposedly for short). As some of you will know, the Cordilleras
hold a special place in my heart, and indeed gave me one of the greatest learning
experiences in my career. It was in 1986, when I was still based in Bangkok, that I first
came here with colleagues from the Department of Agriculture to consider how we could
best design an integrated rural development program, focusing on community-based,
areas-based development planning and the empowerment of local communities and local
governments, with the aim of promoting sustainable longterm improvement in the living
conditions and development potentiao of the people of the Central Cordillera.
The Central Cordillera Agricultural Program (or CECAP) Phase 1, was the first of its
kind in the Philippines, and was implemented from 1989 to 1996. The EC's support for
CECAP confirmed our support for the newly-established Philippine democracy, after the
EDSA Revolution. Acknowledging the success of this program, and the potential of this
development model, this approach was later replicated in Mindanao, with the SMAP
programme, and in the Visayas, with the Western Samar and Small Islands projects. And
following the disastrous earthquake of 1990, a related prgramme, ERP, was established
in Nueva Vizcaya and Mountain Provinces.
CECAP itself was extended into a second phase, with CECAP 2 following on from July
1996 to July 2004, and indeed the preparation of this second phase was just about the last
thing that I worked on before ending my assignment in the Philippines in 1995.
The underlying objectives of CECAP Phase 1 and Phase 2 were similar, and the only
major difference between the two was that in CECAP Phase 2 Rural Finance was
included as a separate component. Indeed this Rural Finance Component of CECAP 2
was an essential component of its overall thrust towards poverty alleviation, aimed at
establishing a sustainable rural credit system for the people of the Cordilleras, to help
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farmers take better advantage of improved market opportunities and agricultural
technologies, and to help strengthen the capital base of rural communities, through
enhanced savings generation and the availability of credit for on-lending.
As CECAP Phase 2 drew to its close in 2003-04, the project had been able to assist in the
formation and strengthening of 1,431 savings and loan groups (SLGs), with some 11,000
members, and with accumulated savings reaching an estimated Php 12.7 million. At that
point, arrangements were made for the rural finance organisations to benefit from a
program of institution-building that would continue for up to six (6) years after the
closure of the main CECAP project, in order to help ensure their sustainability and
viability as financial organizations.
Following discussions and agreement among the EC, the Department of Agriculture, the
Agricultural Credit and Policy Council (ACPC) and the Land Bank of the Philippines,
the CCIBPTF was therefore established, using the repaid loans from CECAP Phase 2 as
its seed capital. When this was launched, a total of 22 cooperatives and 9 SLAs were
identified to take part in the capacity-building activities of the programme.
And here we are today, six years later, commemorating the successful termination of this
effort, acknowledging some twenty years cooperation between the EC, DA, LGUs and
the farmers of the Cordillera, and in particular celebrating the success of your own
efforts. Over the last six years of this programme, indeed over the twenty years of
CECAP, you have shown that by working together, by persevering, you have been able
as members of these cooperatives and SLAs to make a real difference, and to lead the
way in creating income opportunities and combating poverty.
My congratulations to all of you! And I suspect that it's not just a coincidence that I can
see here many women members – which underscores the essential importance of all the
efforts being undertaken by the Philippine farmers, and their husbands.
As a spin-off from CECAP 1 and 2, the EC's continuing participation in CCIBPTF has
confirmed our continuing commitment to helping rural communities in the Central
Cordilleras to build their own development and secure their future. Our support has been
in line with our commitment to microfinance as an essential vector for the development
of strong domestic financial systems that work for the poor. The model partnership in
this program is also now being replicated in the Upland Southern Mindanao Capacity
and Institution-Building Program (USM-CIBP) in the upland areas of Mindanao.
At this point, I would also like to express my sincere thanks to the Land Bank of the
Philippines and the Department of Agriculture for their longterm commitment to this
program, and of course to the hardworking staff of ACPC, led by Director Mel
Montenegro – another old friend, who if my memory is correct was with me on that first
visit to Banaue more than 20 years ago.
At a time when many countries around the world are facing an economic recession and
high food prices, the essential role of agriculture in development and the fight against
poverty is once again getting the recognition it rightly deserves. Access to financial
services, especially for small landholders continues to be an essential issue here. And
your organisations, the cooperatives and SLAs, form an essential bridge between the
rural communities and the financial services offered by local and national lending
Finally, I would just underline that the ending of CECAP, and now of CCIBPTF, does
not mean that we are no longer involved in supporting development in the Cordillera.
The provinces of Ifugao, and Mountain, are included under our Health Sector Policy
Support Program, and will continue to give me a reason to visit the Cordillera from time
In conclusion, to my old friends and all who have worked to make these programmes
such a success – Mabuhay, at maraming salamat po, so inyong lahat, sa inyong trabaho !
Thank you all, from the bottom of my heart.