ONE-STOP-SHOP. Residents of remote villages in Daraga, Albay avail of free government services provided by the Arangkada Banwa Caravan (ABC), which offers a wide array of services, ranging from healthcare to skills training. ABC is expected to visit all 54 villages of Daraga before April 2024. (Photo courtesy of Daraga PIO)

DARAGA, Albay – At least 600 residents of four remote villages in this town availed of free social services during the sixth leg of the municipal government's Arangkada Banwa Caravan (ABC) on Friday.

Dubbed the first "one-stop-shop" offering an array of services to Daragueṅos, ABC visited the far-flung villages of San Vicente Grande, Ibaugan, San Rafael and Bigao, in its thrust to bring government programs and services closer to the people.

Mayor Carlwyn Baldo said the program is in line with his vision of "A better Daraga," as the caravan aims to provide residents the chance to access a variety of free services without having to go to the municipal hall.

In partnership with the different local offices in the municipality, the caravan provided birth certificate registration and legal, dental, and medical services, including the provision of medicines and vaccines.

It also offered assistance to residents applying for police clearance, electricity connection, and marriage licenses. Senior citizens, persons with disabilities (PWD), and solo parents wanting to apply for or renew their identification cards were also assisted.

Food packs were distributed to the elderlies and PWDs, as well as employment opportunities for job seekers and skills training in bread-making.

Lourdes Cadag, 70, a resident of San Vicente, hailed the initiative as it made them feel “important” and included in the local agenda despite their geographic location.

Ausencia Alcayde, 70, from Ibaugan village, expressed her gratitude after availing of health services. "Very good itong ano (program) ni mayor kasi yung mga may sakit, hindi na pupunta sa Daraga, dito na lang. Hindi na sila mamasahe papuntang Daraga. Pati pagkuha ng clearance, hindi na kami pupunta sa munisipyo (The mayor's program is very good because those who are sick no longer need to go to Daraga. They can avail it here. They longer need to pay for the fare to go to Daraga. Even obtaining clearance, we no longer need to go to the municipality)," she said.

In an interview, Baldo stressed the importance of bringing government services closer to the communities. "If we want to empower our people, we need to invest holistically in their well-being by offering programs and services that are responsive to their needs," the mayor said.

The Arangkada Banwa Caravan, which is scheduled every Friday, is slated to end in March 2024 after providing services to all 54 barangays of Daraga town.

ABC already visited 12 barangays since its launch last Aug. 4. (PNA)