The Central Luzon Regional Gender and Development Committee (RGADC III), in coordination with the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW), organized an online forum to orient members on Gender and Development (GAD) Planning and Budgeting and Audit on 15 October 2021 via videoconferencing. Around 150 GAD Focal Point System members from regional line agencies, local government units, higher education institutions, and state universities and colleges participated in the activity. 

In her opening message, RGADC III Chairperson and CHED 3 Regional Director Ma. Teresita M. Semana emphasized that the committee continues to do its best in providing learning opportunities to all stakeholders. She also requested the participants to find value in understanding the proper handling of government resources like the GAD funds and on how through planning and budgeting they can be best optimized.

Ms. Lydia M. Baltazar of DILG 3, Ms. Karen G. Dagñalan-Dy of PCW, and Ret. COA Assistant Commissioner Lourdes M. Castillo were the resource speakers in the forum. Through the series of lectures, they hoped that the participants were not only fully-equipped with the guidelines and prescribed formats on the preparation and online submission of plans and budgets but also were instilled with fiscal accountability in the utilization of GAD funds and implementation of GAD programs and projects.

The forum also facilitated a short question and answer session where Ret. COA Assistant Commissioner Castillo, DBM 3 Assistant Regional Director Rosalie C. Abesamis, and Ms. Nharleen Santos-Millar of PCW served as panelists. One of the sentiments brought by the participants to the table is the increasing demand of GAD-related work which pushed the discourse on installing at least one permanent GAD Specialist in every agency.

RGADC III Vice-Chairperson and NEDA 3 Regional Director Gina T. Gacusan then delivered the ways forward message. She encouraged participants to make use of the inputs learned in order to craft a GAD Plan and Budget that will truly make a difference and not be accomplished only for compliance. In her closing message, PCW Deputy Executive Director Maria Kristine Josefina Balmes challenged the participants that they should not to be confined within the limits of the five-percent allocation of GAD budget but should instead strive to make the entire agency budget gender-responsive.

(Liezl Joyce V. Mangalindan, NEDA 3-PFPD)