The Regional Convergence Initiative (RCI) together with the Provincial Convergence Initiative (PCI), Municipal Convergence Initiative (MCI) and National Convergence Initiative for Sustainable Rural Development (NCI-SRD) launched the Central Luzon’s pilot convergence area, the Tarlac Watershed, and presented the Convergence Area Development Plan (CADP) of San Jose, Tarlac to the stakeholders held at Bulwagan ng Kanlahi, Diwa ng Tarlac, Tarlac City last October 16, 2019.

The CADP will be implemented through the ridge-to-reef approach as the planning tool for the convergence strategy among the four (4) agencies, namely: Department of Agriculture (DA), Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).

Engr. Ramil De Vera, a member of the Municipal Convergence Initiative Technical Working Group (MCI-TWG) and San Jose, Tarlac Municipal Tourism focal person, presented the CADP to the stakeholders. He mentioned that the Tarlac Watershed is one of the 143 critical watersheds in the country.  Tarlac Watershed consists of the Moriones and O’donnel River systems which flow in the municipalities of San Jose, Mayantoc, Bamban, Capas and Tarlac City.

“Ginagawa natin ito para i-preserve yung watershed para ma-save yung mga natitira pang ganda ng kalikasan sa probinsya (we’re doing this to preserve the watershed and to save the remaining natural resources of the province),” he said.

The CADP aims to establish a farm-based tourism site and to improve eco- transforming the municipality of San Jose from a third-class municipality to a first-class municipality, and one of the best eco-tourism destinations in Central Luzon.

Based on the data of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), the municipality has the highest poverty incidence in Tarlac in 2012. The CADP targets to reduce the poverty incidence level from 24% to 15% by the end of 2023.

The CADP envisions to sustain the economic growth for the said municipality through empowered local communities promoting sound ecosystem management as a foundation for sustainable economic development that enables the people of San Jose to become self-reliant.

As an initial support, the following were awarded to the Municipality of San Jose, Tarlac prior to the implementation of the plan: DA awarded the P 2, 548, 500. 00 worth of hybrid rice seeds, corn seeds, cassava planting materials, assorted vegetable seeds, livestock livelihood projects, and 1 unit of hand tractor, DAR gave Certificate of Land Ownership Award (CLOA) to 25 Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries (ARBs) with a combined area of 34.2688 hectares, DENR also awarded 24 Agricultural Free Patents with an aggregate area of 10 hectares of land, while DILG commits Road Rehabilitation and Construction Project worth P10,000,000.00

Meanwhile, DA Assistant Secretary for Agribusiness and Marketing, Ms. Kristine Y. Evangelista, encouraged the farmers to utilize the DA projects to support their livelihood to have higher yield and income.

On the other hand, DILG Regional Director Julie J. Daquioag, complimented the officials of San Jose, Tarlac for being organized with their governance and that the municipality deserves the said projects according to her.

DAR would provide the necessary technical assistance. In fact, the agency already awarded the 75 hectares Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT) to the Abelling tribe in Barangay Moriones.

“Naniniwala po ang DAR na hindi po dapat huminto sa pamimigay ng lupa sa magsasaka ang aming mandato at kung hindi po namin sila susubaybayan sa kanilang produksyon ay walang mangyayari sa lupang pinamigay” (DAR believes that intervention must continue even after land distribution if not closely monitor nothing will happen to the land distributed) DAR representative, Geraldine B. Yumol said.

 The ceremonial signing of Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) was done on the same day by DA-RFO3 OIC-Regional Executive Director, Crispulo G. Bautista Jr., DILG Regional Director, Julie J. Daquioag, DAR Representative, Geraldine B. Yumul, DENR Representative CENRO, Gerundio C. Fernandez, and MLGU Hon. Mayor Romeo G. Capitulo.

Having a total investment cost of P4,087, 700,000.00, the implementation of the CADP will start this year until 2023 to benefit over 33,960 people of San Jose. Of which, 5,000 are farmers and 780 are fisherfolk.