partners met Mr. Gary Hawes, an icon of Local People’s
Participation in budget process
By Popot Baldevia / Posted
21 November 2011
Hawes meets with Balay Mindanaw and soldiers of the 40IB.
Mr. Gary Hawes, Associate
Director and International Budget Partnership Representative to the
Philippines, visited the Municipality of Aleosan last November 2 to
3. He was accompanied by Balay Mindanaw Group of NGO President Kaloy
Z. Manlupig, and Executive Directors Ariel Hernandez of KPMFI and
Paul Paraguya of BMFI.
Gary spent dinner with Balay
Aleosan staff and some youth volunteers, including two promising
peace champions from the state security sector: Lt. Col. Roy Galido
and Lt. Col. Benjie Hao, both of the 40th Infantry Battalion.
Gary asked about how local
governance is being concretely affected by the peace and security
situation, or vice versa.
Both colonels, citing various
actual experiences, shared that both governance and peace and
security are big and connected challenges. They reinforce each
other. “Local leaders, just like us soldiers or even the law
enforcement officers, when transparent and accountable, gain the
trust and confidence of the people. The better our performance is,
the greater confidence is put in us by the people,” said
Galido. On the other hand, Hao stressed the importance of enhancing
confidence and partnership with civil society organizations, and
securing peace and security in the context of human rights and rule
of law as key to realizing peaceful communities.
The next day’s activity
started with a hearty breakfast (kilawing kambing, adobo, papait,
sinabaw na manok, at pinaupong manok) at the office of Mayor Loreto
V. Cabaya Jr. and the members of the Local Finance Committee (LFC)
– Municipal Budget Officer Jaime Alemania, Municipal Accountant
William E. Ralar, Municipal Planning and Development Coordinator (MPDC) Reuby
Cagud, and Ms Rowena Banaga (MPDC II).
Mayor Cabaya, after giving a
short briefer on the situation in Aleosan, shared that he
appreciated Balay Mindanaw’s local budget tracking program for it
helps increase the awareness of his constituents on the essence of
participatory, accountable, responsive and transparent governance.
He also said that the full disclosure policy provides the citizenry
how the local budget process is done. “What is important is that
when somebody asks questions, we have all the answers,” he
emphasized. He also shared that despite their meager Internal
Revenue Allotment (IRA) being a third class municipality, together
with the LFC, they are able to optimize use of this small resource.
In responding to Gary’s
question about how armed conflicts affected the peace and order
situation of the municipality, Mayor Cabaya cited Balay Mindanaw’s
peacebuilding interventions. The training on peace course held in
Cagayan de Oro City, he said, has greatly helped, especially in the
case of Barangay Dunguan, which recently had experienced the killing
of their first councilor due to rido (clan war). Furthermore, this
barangay had suffered much during the height of violent conflicts.
After the conduct of Local
Peace Consultations spearheaded by BMFI, people have slowly opened
up their communication lines. They have become more engaging, and
tangibly, active participation is there. In the recent rido case,
the aggrieved family never fought back. Instead, they became open to
peace negotiation or settlement.
The mayor cited Punong
Barangay Mholds Suga, who told him: “We’re fed up with rido,
Mayor, especially now because we have to attend to a lot of projects
in the barangay.”
The field commanders of the
Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in the barangay are also
starting to engage in terms of project development in the community,
specifically the establishment of fishpond in Dunguan. Ayi
Hernandez, who was overwhelmed by the story, cited that this can
become a good model to be considered by the other barangays inside
the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
Just before lunch, the team
proceeded to Barangay New Panay. Punong Barangay Lolita V.
Capotulan, with the 23 members of the Barangay Development Council
(BDC), shared about their difficulty in allocating small funds
vis-à-vis the list of priority issues identified by her
constituents. She appreciated the budget discussions they had,
citing that this was their first time to be transparent down to the
last peso, with the active participation of the BDC members. Kagawad
Laquihon shared that being informed about barangay budgeting lessens
the chance of corruption to take place. Besides, this is good as
everyone in the barangay gets the chance to participate in all
processes involved, more importantly, budgeting.
As regards peace and
security, Capotulan cited their concern on cattle rustling, which
they considered to be a modus of an organized group, as rustlers
were noticed to have high powered guns.
Mr. Gary Hawes’ Impressions
Capacity building on budget
information among constituent citizens, paralleled by the
institutionalization of local structures, is crucial. People’s
participation through the BDCs is not enough. In fact the 25-percent
membership of NGOs in the BDC is not representative of the entire
populace. This structure needs to be optimized. Besides budget
information, analysis and monitoring are not even sensitive issues,
hence nothing to be afraid of on the part of the LGUs.
Balay’s local budget
tracking for participatory, accountable, responsive, transparent,
nurturing, efficient/effective and rule of law-sensitive governance,
despite some limitations encountered, has shown notable reforms. All
this needs to be documented and supported with actual evidences for
consideration and possible replication by other local government