Guingona (center) with BMFI's Paul Paraguya (right). Photo:
CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY --
Representatives of various civil-society organizations all over
Mindanao are pushing for the immediate amendment of the Local
Government Code of 1991 to allow greater CSO participation to
enhance local government budgeting.
During the Budget Tracking
for Transparent Accountable Governance (BTTAG) Policy Dialogue
Friday, the CSOs presented a policy paper to Senator Teofisto “TG”
Guingona III and DILG Undersecretary Austere Panadero.
The policy paper contains
seven recommendations the CSOs strongly believed will allow for
greater transparency and accountability in local government finance.
Foremost of these
recommendations was the immediate amendment of the 1991 LGC by
putting provisions such as “allowing accredited civil society
organizations, private organizations, and business institutions to
fully participate and be part of the budget process of LGUs; and
allowing CSOs be part of the Local Finance Committee which is
mandated by law to recommend to the LCE the level of the annual
expenditures and ceiling of spending economic, social and general
services based on the comprehensive development plan.”
“The Local Government Code
of 1991 recognizes the accredited CSOs as legitimate members of the
local special bodies. One of this is the Local Development Council.
CSO representatives can deliberate the plans, budgets, and concerns
of the local government. It can participate in prioritizing programs
and projects that respond to the needs of the people. However the
Code is silent in terms of complete CSO participation in the local
budget process,” the CSO representatives stressed in their policy
The local budgeting process
has three phases: First, Budget Formulation, which starts with the
Budget Call of the Local Chief Executive, authorization, and ends
with the Budget Reviewed by the appropriate higher office; Second,
Budget Execution, which starts with the Budget Request from the
requesting office and ends in the Liquidation of the expense; and
Third, Budget Accounting, which covers the regular financial
accounting and analysis of all the disbursement and expenditures of
the LGU in one fiscal year.
Executive Director Paul
Paraguya. Photo: Bong Fabe
But in actual practice, many
LGUs shortcut the process, thus the need for regular local
assessment, which some LGUs are incapable of doing due to political
patronage, political accommodation and other corrupt practices that
have become so ingrained that it becomes the usual practice rather
than the exception.
Mayor Romeo Tiongco, of the
Municipality of Damulog in Bukidnon who comes from the ranks of
civil society organizations, said he is very frustrated that there
are very little CSO participation in his town. “Where are the
engaged, involved citizenry?” he asked.
Tiongco said that since his
assumption as local chief executive of Damulog 4 years ago, he has
been looking for CSOs in the local government special bodies but
until now, no CSOs have come forward to claim their seat in these
special bodies. Tiongco is now on his second term as mayor.
He said the lack of strong
CSO participation in LGUs open the door wide for vested interests to
Rep. Rufus Rodriguez (2nd
District, Misamis Oriental) agreed with Tiongco, saying that CSO
participation in local governance will open wide the door to
transparency and good governance.
“Transparency means the
protection of the people’s money in LGUs,” he said.
Rodriguez, who is partnering
with CSOs and the Archdiocese of Cagayan de Oro in his many pet
projects, not only for the benefit of his district but for all
Kagay-anons, praised the active participation of CSOs in the city.
He cited as example the
planned multi-billion bioethanol plant that was successfully
defeated because of strong and active participation of the CSOs who
rose to the challenge together with the Diocese and rallied the
Kagay-anons against its establishment because of its wrong location—the
bank of the Class-A Cagayan de Oro River.
“This project should be
expanded to other cities and provinces, including the barangays,
because it is the barangay where the power of government emanates
from because every Filipino lives in a barangay,” he stressed.
He said that while there are
many LGUs that lack the active participation of CSOs, he hoped that
the BTTAG Project will change this.
The Asia Foundation (TAF),
United States Assistance for International Development (USAID) and
Balay Mindanaw Foundation, Inc. (BMFI) are positive that this will
really change and revolutionize the local budget process.
BMFI Executive Director Paul
Richard Paraguya said it is now high time for more people’s
participation in local governance, most especially in the very
engine of every LGU—the local budgeting process.
“Citizens have to be part
of government because if not, the life of government or governance
will eventually die,” he said.
Paraguya, who is also BTTAG
Project officer, said that CSO participation in the local budgeting
process is very much worthwhile.
Rufus Rodriguez. Photo: Bong Fabe
“This is very worthwhile
because this will increase the people’s participation as well as
increase the star of the local chief executives because the
resources of the people are being used for their benefits,” he
“This can only be done if a
third party will join the budget process,” he added.
Dr. Steven Rood, country
director of TAF, said that this project has put budgeting in the
Philippines on the right track.
“There are different levels
of partnership of CSOs with LGUs; different levels of openness of
LGUs to partnering with CSOs. But TAF is and always will be with you
in this endeavor. Let’s all work together in pursuit of a
transparent government,” he urged the CSOs.
Sen. Guingona, on the other
hand, encouraged CSOs to continue the project.
“Continue this transparency
in the budget process project. This is very important. It is very
important that people understand and know where their money are
going,” he said.
Guingona, who started the
ball rolling for a transparent budget process in the national
government, said: “If there are people who misuse the people’s
money, there should be people who should answer to the people.”
The other policy
recommendation presented were: (2) DBM, NEDA, and COA to issue
memorandum circular or directives to all their respective field
offices to assist private and civil society partners in their task
of journeying with the LGUs to enhance transparency and
accountability; Include in the seminars the topics Peace and
Development to ensure capacity of local officials and CSOs in
conflict management; (3) Amend the LGC and change the formula of the
Internal Revenue Allocation from 45 percent for LGUs to 60 percent
to LGUs. Consequently change the process of remittance. Retain 60
percent of funds by LGUs and only the 40 percent be remitted to the
National Treasury; (4) Inclusion of the accountability of the CSO/PS
to the community. They be made to regularly report to the community
their assessment of the LGU financial system and status; (5) DBM,
COA, NEDA, DSWD, and other NGAs together with CSOs/PS to establish
an effective monitoring and accountability mechanism in the firm
implementation of the Joint Memo Circular No. 1 Series of 2007:
Harmonization Local Planning, Investment Programming, Revenue
Administration, Budgeting and Expenditure Management. Include awards
and sanctions; (6) NEDA to enhance the capacity of Local Planning
and Development Officers in handling local peace and development
planning and budgeting to ensure participation and quality of
output; and (7) Change Election Schedules to time with the Oath
Taking of newly elected officials at the start of the government
fiscal year. This will shield voters from unnecessary demand of
money during election. This will also give ample time for newly
elected officials to assess the situation and effectively work right
at the start of his/her term.