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“The Local Government Code provides the local government units the responsibility of providing projects and programs for the Filipino people. We are at the frontlines of development. Over the years, we have shown that we, the LGUs, have the firm resolve and an ever-growing capacity to implement basic services for our communities,” said Governor Alfonso Umali, Jr., President of the Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines (ULAP), in one of the Regional Dialogues of the “#ParaSaBayan: Pagtataguyod ng Makabuluhang Adhikain ng Pamamahalang Lokal” advocacy, organized by ULAP, the umbrella organization of all the leagues and elected officials in the country.
ULAP convened local government officials among its member leagues, particularly the League of Provinces of the Philippines (LPP), League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP), League of Cities of the Philippines (LCP), Liga ng mga Barangay sa Pilipinas (LNB), League of Vice Governors of the Philippines (LVGP), Philippine Councilor’s League (PCL) and National Movement of Young Legislators (NMYL) for the Regional Dialogues of the “#ParaSaBayan: Pagtataguyod ng Makabuluhang Adhikain ng Pamamahalang Lokal” advocacy in regions MIMAROPA, Central Visayas and the newly formed Negros Region, CARAGA, Central Luzon, CAR and Ilocos Region.
#ParaSaBayan was launched on December 2, 2015 during the ULAP National Executive Board (NEB) meeting and has since conducted dialogues and consultation in the following regions: Puerto Prinsesa City on November 22, 2015 for MIMAROPA, Cebu City on December 11, 2015 for Central Visayas and Negros Regions, Butuan City on December 16, 2015 for CARAGA, Tarlac City on January 25, 2016 for Central Luzon, Baguio City on January 26, 2016 for CAR and Vigan City on January 28, 2016 for Ilocos.
The #ParaSaBayan advocacy, through gathering commitments of the local government officials, pushes for a set of key reforms that empower local governance actors – LGUs and civil society organizations alike – such as direct access and downloads to local government shares in national wealth, performance measurements and incentives, improved financing guidelines for basic services, and improvement of inclusive local government platforms. These key local reforms are informed by the spirit of devolution and decentralization of governance and development espoused in the Local Government Code of 1991, which would be celebrating 25 years of passage in October 2016.
“We will be celebrating the 25th anniversary [of the Code] and the conduct of the #ParaSaBayan regional dialogues is a good step towards bringing in the messages of unity as well as the message of collaboration as we also strengthen the capacities of the local governments. We believe that a strong local government unit will also be a foundation of a strong republic,” said Governor Edgardo Chatto of Bohol during the Regional Dialogues in Cebu.
ULAP developed the #ParaSaBayan advocacy to open spaces for consensus-building and collaboration among local governance champions. The gains of the advocacy will inform the continuing agenda of the local governments beyond the Code anniversary.
According to Governor Albert Garcia of Bataan during the Region 3 dialogue held in Tarlac on January 25, 2016, the local governments are the face of the whole government because they are more accessible to the people. There is a need to be more responsive to the growing needs of Filipino people, and both national and local governments must recognize policy reforms that strengthen the capacities of local governance actors.
The #ParaSaBayan advocacy is being conducted in partnership with the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of Budget and Management (DBM), Philippine Open Government Partnership (OGP) Steering Committee, United Nation’s RePubliko advocacy, and Microsoft Philippines.
Sustainability and Institutionalization of Performance-based Incentive Programs
According to DILG Undersecretary Austere Panadero, after the passage of the Code, the national government has provided capacity building and trainings to the local governments to provide guidance on how to perform their functions. In 2000s, it started to measure the capacities of the local governments by setting-up and creating performance indicators based on what is in the Code through the Local Government Performance Management System (LGPMS).
While in the 2010 up to today, further performance measurements were developed – such as the Seal of Good Housekeeping (SGH), which is the award for transparency and disclosure, and the Seal of Good Local Governance (SGLG), which is the upgraded, expanded version of the SGH which includes service delivery indicators. Moreover, these performance measurements are now tied to access to financing facilities, such as the Performance Challenge Fund (PCF), the Bottom-Up Budgeting (BuB), and the newly-started Konkreto at Ayos na Lansangan at Daan Tungo sa Pangkalahatang Kaunlaran (KALSADA) for provincial road maintenance and rehabilitation.
These said programs have provided incentives through downloading of funds to the local governments, who passed certain governance criteria such as transparency and accountability, for the implementation of projects and programs in their communities.
“What is good right now is that we are not looking at personality-based but policy-based, which means the (programs) are looking at our capacities and commitment to good governance. The partnership of the local governments and the national government looks at how to make the resources more felt at the grassroots level,” said Governor Garcia.
During the regional dialogue in the Cordillera Autonomous Region (CAR) on January 26, 2016, Benguet Governor Nestor Fongwan said, “Local government units are feeling that they are being consulted and their needs are being met by the national government (through these performance-based incentive programs).”
Mayor Ronaldo Y. Corvera from the City of San Luis, Agusan del Sur also mentioned the importance of “giving the communities the opportunity to identify their needs and receive the corresponding programs/projects in line with these needs” during the CARAGA regional dialogue on December 16, 2015.
Moreover, Apayao Governor Elias Bulut, Jr. mentioned that they want these programs to be institutionalized in the future and hope that the next administration will continue these incentives for the local governments.
Atty. Edmund Abesamis, LNB National President and Secretary-General of ULAP, added that the national government and the next administration must not disregard the efforts of the local governments and the next set of elected officials must push for institutionalizing these programs.
As Mayor Lucilo Bayron from Puerto Princesa City mentioned during the MIMAROPA dialogue on November 22, 2015 “BuB is free from politics in a way. If you do not have the seal and are not qualified, you won’t get the money. If you cannot implement and liquidate, you won’t be downloaded more money. So it’s very performance based”.
As per Agusan Del Sur Governor Edward Adolph Plaza, “it is about time that the national government should acknowledge that local government units play an important part in helping for the progress and development of our country.”
Pursuing Meaningful Agenda for Local Governance Reforms
The regional dialogues also focus on other local governance reforms in strengthening the roles of the local governments in achieving development that will trickle down to the people. These reforms seek to further empower while uphold accountability among LGUs in their mandate of delivering services in the frontlines of the development agenda.
During the dialogue in Ilocos Region, Governor Ryan Singson of Ilocos Sur noted that current programs of the national government provides additional support and capacity for the local governments, however, systems reform must be introduced to speed up the processes of releasing local shares from the national wealth, particularly on excise taxes on tobacco and mining.
The local government officials also discuss the review of the Local Government Code, particularly on increasing the share of the local governments in Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) and revisiting the computation and distribution, to address issues of inequity among the local governments.
Moreover, the local governments are seeking to improve health financing guidelines and co-sharing of expenditures between the national government and local governments to enhance local health systems. They are also keen on developing performance-based mechanisms for local education financing that will empower local governments to more effectively respond to local education needs. The same policy approach is pushed for reforms in the National Disaster Fund and People’s Survival Fund to allow local governments to be more responsive during natural disasters.
Lastly, to ensure that the programs and projects are more targeted and evidence-based, the local governments want the national government to develop an ICT Policy Framework to assist LGUs in financing and investing on ICT infrastructure and programs that will make local data more transparent and efficient. This will allow innovations in technologies that can open spaces for greater and wider participation of more sectors in the governance agenda.
The #ParaSaBayan advocacy will continue on with consensus-building and agenda-setting activities, such as policy workshops and dialogues with potential champions of the local government agenda both in the local and national levels.
For further partnerships and details on the advocacy, please contact:
(c/o Czarina Medina-Guce, Executive Director)
Tel: (02) 5346787, 5346789 Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.