The year 2017 has been a realization - an eye opener. We were recently evaluated by our funding agencies (ADB and IFAD) and was rated "well below expectations".

The year 2017 has been a realization - an eye opener. We were recently evaluated by our funding agencies (ADB and IFAD) and was rated "well below expectations".

Our delivery rate in terms of physical targets is "weak" and "low" in terms of financial disbursement. In real terms, our project was evaluated and found to have accomplished a mere 11.22% of its physical targets and 18% of its financial goals, with an elapsed time of 61%.  Moreover, the implementation review report likewise called our attention to improve on a number of procedures in project implementation and re-align project scope to integrate watershed management by incorporating both public land and all lands in project investments, introduce proven conservation technologies for integrated watershed management, ensure compliance on locations and specifications of road investments by selecting public roads linking villages with markets, increase the efficiency of the rural infrastructure approval process, treat community organizations as partners rather than contractors, streamline requirements of all partners for compliance with safeguards by rationalizing documentation, simplify free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) validation through the National Project Steering Committee (NPSC), delegate or devolve greater responsibility to provincial level and reduce central level decision making, improve project capacity, oversight and supervision through more NPSC meetings, more supervision missions and technical assistance by ADB/IFAD and proceed with consolidated forward planning for 2017-2020 through consultations in the national and field levels to ensure the achievement of physical and financial targets in June 2020.

      As most of you are aware, our Project is at a cross road. There is a move to restructure INREMP and to cancel part of the loan and apply the proceeds in the rehabilitation of Marawi City. In essence, the proposed adjustments consist of some revisions in performance targets and cost restructuring with no additional cost like 67% reduction of targets under the NRM component taking into consideration availability of suitable areas and presence of People's Organizations (POs), 63% reduction of targets under the RI component, change in the implementation arrangement with regards to the DA partnership for rural infrastructure in Chico River Basin, consideration of livelihood as one of INREMP's project interventions which will be pursued in partnership with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), modification in financing and funds realignment due to proposed reduction on NRM targets, unit cost increase of NRM and RI subprojects, increase funds for People's Organizations and household-level up scaled livelihood projects/activities and no time extension in project implementation.

      In the past couple of months, efforts to save the project from pre-mature closure or restructuring have been going on. Our top management is hard at work negotiating for the retention and/or extension of INREMP for a year or two.

       Looking back and taking stock of INREMP's most important resource: the knowledge and wealth of experience of our project consultants and assisting professionals; the youthful enthusiasm and new perspectives from our job contracts; plus the tempered wisdom and abundant know-how of our regulars - the organic personnel of the FMB and DENR field offices; our receptive and eager IP/IPOs and LGU partners. All of these combined and working in unison, can we not reverse the present state of things and bring INREMP to success in the coming days?

      The foregoing elaborations call on each of us to commit and work as if there is no tomorrow. It is a challenge for all of us and a BIG one at that. Let the lessons of 2017 and the past years be our compass to navigate the bigger challenges in the remaining 30 months of INREM project life, be it restructured or given an added leash in life.

      As we usher in the year 2018, let me end this note by paraphrasing Charles Kettering who said: "Every time we take off a leaf from the calendar, let us think of new ideas and methods that will lead us to progress".