Serbisyo Fair

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By Danilo P. Padua, PhD

“ Others felt that 2 days are not enough in places like La Trinidad. Even BSU constituents were not able to take advantage of the services as they were busy working. Only a few wore a smile as they were able to avail of some benefits .”

The mood was festive, with banderitas hanging all over. People came in droves. Right on the first day, long queues already materialized very early in the morning.
It was the 15th iteration of the Serbisyo Fair (caravan if you may) of the Bagong Pilipinas of PBBM, launched in Luneta last Dec, 2023.
The Serbisyo Fair is a program to bring government services to the people. It is/to be conducted in various regions of the country. It is touted to be mabilis, maayos, maginhawa, at masayang Serbisyong Pampubliko.
Fairs arranged, initiated or sponsored by the government are not new. fairs dealing with trade, job, agriculture, arts and culture, academic, book, etc. They are quite different though from the Serbisyo Fair.
While most are confined to a region, province or municipality, Serbisyo Fair is national (with the help of regional offices of course) in nature- for the agencies involved in dispensing service.
To me, it is an excellent program as it allows people to spend less with greatly reduced time needed to transact business with the government. It must evolved though for more convenience to the people, with minimal disruptions of the usual businesses where it is held.
Traffic was very, very heavy and horrendous during the Fair. Many BSU buildings were utilized thus, classes were disrupted.
The program is very relevant but the problem is, it is tinged with political color- it has always been from the beginning. It seems that the program is the initiative of the House of Representatives.
There were 63 congressmen, about 7 governors and several municipal and city mayors who graced the occasion
House Speaker Martin Romualdez is clearly “in-charge”. Fact is, the Speaker headed the initial distribution of benefits to selected beneficiaries during the event held at Benguet State University last April 21-22, 2024. He did the same in the previous 14 iterations, according to those privy to this program from the beginning.
I think, the Fair is giving the Speaker an enviable exposure to a lot of people where it is held. Now we should throw out the window, that quizzical thinking when the last survey on the performance of our higher government officials by OCTA research showed Romualdez increasing in rating. In contrast of course to the slightly decreased ratings of PBBM and VP Sara.
The guy knows how to play politics of addition. And who paid for the Serbisyo Fair? It is said that the Fair cost at least PhP400M in services rendered and in financial aid to qualified beneficiaries. If each Serbisyo Fair cost just PhP300.00M, that would be a cool PhP4.5B for the first 15 Fairs conducted.
It is only April at the moment, which means that we have at least 12 more months before the midterm elections next year. We should expect 15 or more Fairs then between now and May next year. I will not be surprised if more congressmen will latch on to the coat tails of Speaker Martin.
Being a legislative body, I don’t think the House of Representatives had such big amount (and counting) allocated to a non-legislative program. In all likelihood, other agencies had to shell out from their already stretched budgets.
By the way, Speaker Romualdez became an adopted son of La Trinidad because of the event. It’s politics of addition, padre. That’s no brainer.
But you know what? Because of the Serbisyo Fairs, the following programs continue to roll or are now rolling: 1. Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situation (AICS),2.Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers (TUPAD), 3.Cash and Rice Distribution (CARD) Program – 2,000 to 3,000 beneficiaries for this in each Serbisyo Fair in various parts of the Philippines,4. Integrated Scholarships and Incentives Programs (ISIP),5. Start-up, Investment Business Opportunity and Livelihood (SIBOL).
I hope that SIBOL should be given much more thinking, and developed accordingly so we could rise from a mendicancy mentality.
So, the program is really very relevant. During the April 21-22, 2024 event, 70 government agencies were on hand to dispense services. More than 80,000 people swarmed the Fair. It was by far the biggest of its kind. And we should be thankful here in Benguet, especially in La Trinidad.
Even the concert held evening of the first day was headlined by a very popular Pinoy pop artist, Bamboo, which shows that the event was really given much importance by the organizers. The concert is a usual part of the Fair but the one at BSU was reputed to have the biggest audience that immensely enjoyed the show. It ended with a beautiful display of fireworks that even the recent Strawberry Festival did not have
I was one of those that benefitted from the Fair. My wife and I got our passport renewed with no hazzle at all, got planting materials like coconut and pine tree seedlings free. And more.
Although people patronized so many of the services being offered, the lines for passporting, medical consultations, and PSA requests seem to have the longest lines of people. Of course, DSWD was the star agency of the Fair. It was still busy dispensing ayudas even past 8 pm on Apr 22 when every other agency have already called it a day. Kudos to them.
So many came but so many as well were not able to complete what they came for. For one, they were not told of requirements to be brought. This should be addressed in coming Fairs.
Others felt that 2 days are not enough in places like La Trinidad. Even BSU constituents were not able to take advantage of the services as they were busy working. Only a few wore a smile as they were able to avail of some benefits .
Again, the concept itself of the Serbisyo Fair is an excellent idea. There is a need though to review its implementation to benefit more Filipinos outside of the highly urbanized centers.**


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