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MANILA, Philippines -  The Grassroots Special Action Team (GSAT) is eyed to provide community-based support that will go to communities and
enable the involvement of beneficiaries in the Community Mortgage Program (CMP).
“[The GSAT] will add as a communication channel, [which will]…convey to the community what is the [CMP] all about,” Social Housing Finance
Corporation (SHFC) President Atty. Arnolfo Ricardo Cabling said in an online interview on March 18. 
The GSAT was launched in the same year when Cabling assumed office in 2017. He initiated the creation of the team, along with other officers, to
initially resolve the issues of the communitybeneficiaries on a grassroots level. 
Build on trust 
Cabling said creating GSAT would be more beneficial than outsourcing third-party collectors, which was earlier proposed as a strategy to resolve the
issues on collection performance.
"Our trust is different,” he said. “We’re saying na (that) trust is symbiotic in a sense na kaagapay tayo (that we are partners). That’s our tagline:
Kaagapay ng komunidad sa maginhawang pamumuhay (Helping communities toward convenient life). If you outsource [collectors], the spirit of
community [may be lost]."
For Cabling, using a “language” that the beneficiaries can relate to is critical to building trust and relationships. He said that the special action team
would “encourage [the beneficiaries to pay their contribution] rather than demoralize them [when they are not able to pay].” This sets the GSAT
apart from the third-party collectors, according to the president. 
Closer to community
Creating GSAT is also another way of strengthening partnerships with the local government units (LGUs). The grassroots team will be in tight
coordination with the LGUs to reach communities, especially in far-flung areas.   
“I would…work closely with the local governments, and come up with people and hire people from the same ground, from the same communities to
understand better [the plight] of the poor…,” Cabling said.  
The grassroots team is also positioned as a strategy to collaborate with mobilizers in community organizing and loan processing. 
Delivering impact
The first team formed in Mindanao is currently more active in working with the on- and off-site projects in the region. “The first batch of the hired
team was already delivering good outputs,” he said. When asked if GSAT would be expanded to other regions, Cabling said “Plano na 'yan noon pa
(That was already planned).”
“[But] we need to know the standards of hiring them... What [would be] their skills and experiences? We just experimented [with] those who
worked with me-in politics who had experience in community organizing [and] in [empowering] communities and people,” he added.
Three years since its creation, the GSAT has made a significant impact in helping SHFC reach the target number of assisted low-income families,
which calls on “institutionalizing” it, according to the president.
He added that the Board of Directors has already approved the GSAT as a part of the corporation's strategic approach, which in effect, starts to
officially institutionalize the grassroots team. However, it still has to be fully integrated into the day-to-day operations to avoid overlapping
functions with other departments. 
Future hopes
With GSAT as an enabling strategy to make CMP known across the country, Cabling expects it to deliver a different impact. He said he wished that
through this grassroots team, the “SHFC will be recognized, and the program will be understood by the communities.” He also expects it to
“improve our process of selection and validation of our beneficiaries.”
The online interview was held as part of the on-going study of the Settlements Management Group about the impact of GSAT on SHFC communities.