NOT errand guys of the mayors and other local government officials.
Reports and feedbacks are everywhere that most municipal local government operating officers (MLGOOs) are poorly performing as overseer and enforcer of local good governance which is a big task given them by the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), according to the Local Government Code.
MLGOOs are responsible for assisting local government units (LGUs) in crafting municipal development council policies and procedures and ensure they are put into practice, and making sure that local services are delivered effectively.
As such, MLGOOs must have a good and comprehensive grasp of the local situation, and possess or at least strive to have all rounded skills required for various services to be able to address wide-ranging conditions and concerns of local governance.
More importantly, MLGOOs must maintain professional independence from LGU officials or any interest and power groups in the locality to dispense their role and duties without undue influence and more effectively and inclusively.
In short, they are the face of the national government in the locality, the checker and enforcer of the right implementation of the local government code and other orders and memoranda on local governance, the fiscalizer of truth, fairness and justice, and the guardian of the code of ethics for government employees.
Unfortunately, this is not what most MLGOOs are doing.
Reports and feedbacks keep reaching the DILG central offices and the Malacanang’s 8888’s complaints and response center that MLGOOs are accomplices in one or the other to the bad governance practices of governors, mayors, and other local officials.
A number of feedbacks point to the MLGOOs covering up the wrongdoings of the mayors and other local officials, deaf and blind to rampant local corruption, silent on the widespread illegal drug operations in the barangays, biased against genuine citizens social organizations and development-oriented non government organizations (NGOs), and even tolerant of the electoral partisanship of local government officials.
Why is this happening? In fact, facts tell that this has been going for a long time, perhaps under several presidents and DILG secretaries, and still remain grossly unchecked and uncorrected.
In many cases, the MLGOOs could not even command the BJMP and Bureau of Fire officers to do something because they all belong to DILG, yet MLGOOs have to get clearance first from the mayor or local officials.
Some explanations point to the fact that a number of MLGOO offices are dependent on the mayors for their supplies, office space and equipment, mobilization logistics, among others. Wittingly or not, these are some conditions that make them subservient to the whims and caprices of the mayors and other local officials, and therefore prevent them from exercising their independence and initiatives.
I find it even more disgusting that MLGOOs are so busy year round in planning, evaluations, seminars, trainings, educational trips, among others, and yet they remain lapdogs of the local politicians and couldn’t enforce local good governance.
The MLGOOs are emboldened to continue what they have been doing because in a number of cases their provincial officials are widely reported to be coddlers of the corrupt politicians.
DILG Secretary Eduardo Año has started last year with regional dialogues with DILG regional, provincial and municipal/city officers to address their concerns and realign them in the new orientation, thrust, and priorities of the department and the national government.
A number of the items I bring out here actually transpired in those dialogues and Secretary Año has repeatedly reminded DILG field personnel and LGU officials to be true to their mandate and tasks.
Still, I look forward to more decisive actions to be taken by Secretary Año and other central office officials to address and resolve these problems.
I know that they know the gravity of these problems, but I see some light at the end the tunnel so to speak, because the department leadership is demonstrating seriousness in their call to rid the department down to the LGUs of corrupt and criminal officials.
DILG is a powerful institution of the government. Among the equal national agencies it is the primary institution for ensuring good governance. Yet it is still powerless in many areas of the country because of these corrupt and criminal politicians lording over DILG field officers, and other national line agencies officers.
I wish Secretary Año and other central official officials, especially those in National Barangay Operations Office, OPDS, Bureau of Local Government Supervision, and Support to Local Government–Program Management Office to sharpen their calls, and intensify their efforts to restore the dignity and integrity of the DILG down the line, as overseer and enforcer of truly good local governance.
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