Government Strategies in Empowering the Local Government Units in the Philippines
Speech of Senator Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr.
Seminar of the 4th Year Students of Public Administration
Southern Luzon State University
7 September 2012
Thank you very much for inviting me to speak before you, the 4th year students of Public Administration from the Southern Luzon State University. Although your university is miles away from Manila I immediately decided to accept your kind invitation in as much as your seminar topic, “ Government Strategies in Empowering the Local Government Units in the Philippines”, is a subject close to my heart.
Furthermore, as you all know, one of the committees I am now chairing in the Senate is the Committee on Local Government, which is considered as one of the major committees in the Upper House of Congress.
Actually, I consider myself fortunate for having been given the chairmanship of this very important committee as it is a very substantial aspect of governance, especially in the light of the enactment of the Local Government Code more than twenty years (20) ago today. Infact, on October 10, this year, we shall be commemorating the 21st Anniversary of Republic Act 7160, otherwise known as the Local Government Code of 1991.
And as indicated on your invitation, your had precisely focused your seminar on the theme “Government Strategies in empowering the Local Government Units (LGU’s) in the country. That being the case, I decided to concentrate on this one landmark legislation and how it has impacted on empowered governance among our LGU’s.
However, before I proceed to the meat of my speech, let me deviate momentarily to give you one very good and clear example of a Local Executive who has been one of the most recognized and multi-awarded local executives in our country, I am referring to no less than the late Secretary Jesse Robredo who recently met his tragic death in the fatal plane crash last August 18, 2012. If you will recall , after his untimely demise, praises and accolades were heaped on the country’s then Secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government on account of the legacy he left behind in exemplifying a truly empowered local executive, who not only implemented the Local Government Code to the letter, but more so, improved on it in his own innovative and effective manner.
As a result, a number of initiatives today in relation to the amendment of the said code has been recently introduced taking into account the various improvements instituted and proven effective by the late Secretary Robredo.
With that aside, let me now proceed to a discussion of the Local Government Code of 1991.
As you may have learned in your political science subjects, through this law, the central government has devolved to the local government units political, social as well as economic powers. it provides financial wherewithal to the LGU’s to help them unlock development opportunities in the countryside.
Allow me to mention some features of the local government code which will provide you a bird’s eye- view of the importance of the code, which today is being considered as the bible of local governments. And these are the following
? It devolves to the LGUs delivery of basic, actual, and direct services as well as certain regulatory powers;
? It significantly increased the financial resources available to local governments by increasing their shares in the internal revenue allotment.
? LGUs get an equitable share of taxes in the utilization and development of the national wealth;
? It broadens the taxing and revenue raising powers of the LGUs;
? Each LGU is authorized to design and implement its own organizational structure and staffing pattern, taking into consideration its governance and service requirements as well as its financial capability;
? It provides for the participation of the private sector in local governance;
? LGUs are granted the authority to secure loans, credits and other forms of indebtedness to finance their development programs, in accordance with guidelines issued by the National Government.
The foregoing, if properly implemented by the LGUs, are expected to bring together the different stakeholders into the planning table and to actively involve them in the different development processes that should result in the accelerated progress of their respective communities.
Good local governance is the key that opens vast opportunities for development in the countryside, thus accelerating national growth and development.
Good governance entails sound management of public resources in order to guaranty full exercise of human rights and ensure optimum growth and development. It involves sound decision-making and the corresponding proper implementation of promulgated policies and programs.
The following are the key elements of good governance:
1. Transparency –
Transparency means the availability of accurate information to the general public and the articulation of government rules and regulations, and decisions. It is herein implied that copies of rules and guidelines for the conduct of business in the different LGUs for the information of different stakeholders should always be readily available to all.
Accountability and transparency in government transactions work hand in hand. Information from relevant local officials on matters concerning procurement of equipment and materials including those needed for the delivery of basic services devolved to LGUs, as well as the implementation of infrastructure projects where public biddings are required, are essential elements in responsible public service.
Accountable and responsible governance provides an effective mechanism to address complaints and grievances leveled against public officials.
Under our national laws, our people have two alternative courses of action when dealing with erring local officials.
First, these are the legal remedies covering all local officials, whether elected or appointed, as provided for under the following laws:
a) R. A. 7160 or the Local Government Code of 1991;
b) R.A. 3019, otherwise known as the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act of 1960;
c) R.A. 6713, the Conduct and Ethical Standards For Public Officials and Employees of 1989; and
d) R.A. 6770, The Ombudsman Act of 1989.
Second, these are political remedies which cover only elected officials–
a) People can directly punish erring local elective officials through the process of recall under the Local Government Code.
b) In the process of recall, the Code requires that at least twenty five percent (25%) of the registered voters of an LGU can validly initiate recall proceedings against incumbent elected officials for lack of confidence.
c) Recall proceedings could be initiated one year after a national election or one year prior to the national election.
The principle of participation is anchored on the basic fact that people are the very heart of the nation’s development. They are not only the ultimate beneficiaries
Too big a group of progress, but are also the agents of innovation and advancement in the society, through their active involvement in the policy and decision making process.
The principle of participation is now enshrined in the 1987 Constitution under Article XIII, Section 16 thereof. It provides for “The right of the people and their organization to effective and reasonable participation at all levels of social, political, and economic decision-making shall not be abridged. The State, shall by law, facilitate the establishment of adequate consultation mechanisms.
R.A. 7160, one of the enabling laws that implements this constitutional mandate, provides the mechanisms whereby the private sector is enabled to participate in policy formulation and development planning.
1) on legislation-
R.A. 7160 provides, among others, for representation in all sanggunian levels from each of the following sectors: a) the women sector, b) the labor sector (industrial or agricultural, and c) a representative from any of the following sectors: the urban poor, the indigenous cultural communities, the disabled persons or any other sector as determined by the sanggunian concerned x x x. The rules and regulations to effectively provide for the election of such sectoral representatives have been promulgated by the Commission on Elections (COMELEC).
This provision of the Local Government Code implements Section 9, Article X of the Constitution which provides that legislative bodies of local governments shall have sectoral representatives as may be provided by law.
The first elections of the sectoral representatives to the sangguniang panlungsod and sangguniang bayan had been scheduled on March 26, 1993, and the sangguniang panlalawigan on April 16, 1993. Regrettably however, no elections were ever conducted.
2) on development planning
A new paradigm shift in planning has now been adopted. Local development councils are created in all LGU levels by the creation of provincial development councils (PDC); city development councils (CDC), municipal development councils (MDC) and barangay development councils (BDC).
The Code provides that at least twenty five percent (25%) of the total membership of the different local development councils should come from the private sector.
The planning process starts from the barangay development council. The approved development plans of the BDCs will then be submitted to the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) through the MDCs, PDCs and the Regional Development Councils (RDCs). The approved development plans, therefore, of the different LDCs will then be integrated into and become part of the national development plan.
The consistent application of laws, rules and regulations creates an orderly society. It would be extremely difficult if laws were not followed, or if there is no discipline in its implementation.
Investors, for instance, would find it difficult if rules would be constantly amended, and specifications on projects already started would be abruptly changed.
It is important to emphasize at this point that the four elements of good governance, transparency, accountability, participation, and predictability, are not enough to ensure strong and good local governance.
I am of the strong belief that two more important elements are necessary to make local governance effective:
First, the need for value-based and value-driven leadership, and second, the need for a genuine and meaningful local autonomy which the Constitution has aptly provided by way of the following provisions:
a) The State shall ensure the autonomy of local governments (Section 25, Article II)and value; and
b) The territorial and political subdivisions shall enjoy local autonomy. (Section 2, Article X).
The true meaning of local autonomy could be achieved if governance is more directly responsive and effective at the local levels. Through the devolution of powers, our local governments will be able to chart their own destinies and make their lasting imprint in the arena of public service.
This is the challenge for all of us today, my dear seniors, to take part in the Herculean task of helping build a responsive local government structure . Whether you will seek a career in the private sector or in government after you leave the corridors of your university, you will have a very important stake in local governance within the framework of nation-building. As future co-workers in development and as God-loving citizens and as participants in the task of building a strong and united nation either as private professionals or businessmen or perhaps, as prime movers in the continuing challenge of good governance, whether on the local or national level, let this be both a challenge and an opportunity for all of you to take on!
Advance congratulations on your graduation!
Maraming salamat at Mabuhay!