Philippines: Community Radio Empowers Comval Town

Apr. 12, 2007

By Mai Gevera

What sets off Maragusan, the farthest town of Compostela Valley Province, among the other booming municipalities is its 12-year old community radio which continues to empower the residents.

DXLM-FM 102.5 MHz Lanog sa Maragusan started with garrison style broadcasting, using loud speakers to deliver news to the town folks. It ran for two years until the local government unit of Maragusan pushed to convert the system to transmitter-based.

From a simple purpose of delivering agricultural information to the barrios, the said community radio expanded its role by inviting the different sectors in the community to take advantage of free airtime.

Different sectors like religious, civic group, education, women, and other sectors get a free one hour daily program in our station. They need not pay a single cent to relay the information they want the public to know. Were giving it for free. Cesar Escuadro, chairperson of the Maragusan Community Media Council (MCMC) said.

The said council was formed after the LGU committed to release a regular annual budget for the operation of the community radio.

Maragusan mayor Arsenio Yanong said that three administrations have passed and the LGU remained faithful in allotting a yearly budget of P60,000 for the council and P120,000 for the DXLM operations.

Mayor Yanong believed on the effectiveness of the radio station to the lives of the people, thus, he stayed committed in providing financial support to the said project.

This has become a project of the people. This is not my radio station that I could maneuver to push my political ambitions. Instead, this is owned by the community and the LGU only remain at the back of it, making sure that it would continue serving the people., Yanong said.

Radio broadcast volunteers sit in for regular programs and get a 60% share of the advertisement fees.

What we have here are all volunteers. They get honorarium from the annual budget and they could earn more as they get regular advertisers. This is the incentive we give to our broadcasters. Escuadro said.

Along with the birth of the community radio is a more empowered media group, composed of different representatives from the various sectors.

Pastors, priests, teachers, and other volunteers who have also devoted time as broadcasters in the said community radio formed themselves as Kapisanan ng Brodkasters ng Maragusan (KBM).

KBM served as the engine that provided avenues for development such as trainings and other capacity-building activities for the radio broadcasters.

Twelve years of operation spells growth and development to the Maragusan residents. The people especially those who are in far-flung barrios easily transfer to the authorities their complaints, suggestions, and other concerns. While the right authority could immediately respond to it and do something about the concerns of the people., Escuadro bared one the biggest accomplishments of the community radio.

However, the MCMC and the LGU admit some limitations of the radio station. There are still two barangays in Maragusan that are not reached by it.

We hope and we are planning to further strengthen the power capacity of the radio so we could reach more beneficiaries. Yanong explained. (PIA XI/Mai Gevera)

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