Friday, August 06, 2021

Ombion: Greater accountability to people (Devolution: Part 3)


AS I earlier stressed, greater responsibility and accountability to the people’s needs and aspirations is the main challenge confronting the local government units (LGUs) when the full devolution process starts in 2022. This is more than compliance with all the directives and performance standards on good local governance set by the DILG central office.

The latter is about the DILG’s capacity to direct, capacitate and supervise the LGUs to enable them to function right, well, and good.

These are being performed by DILG’s main bureaus and support units, and attached agency like the Local Government Academy which plays important service support in capacitating or raising orientation and skills of DILG program managers, supervisors, and field personnel.

The former is about the net outcomes and results of capacitating the LGUs resulting in no less than the empowerment of CSOs and POs in governance, increased efficiency in the delivery of social services, less red tapes or eased in transacting business with the government, less bureaucratic corruption, and improvement in people’s quality of life.

In meeting the goals of full devolution, it is apparent that DILG plays the lead, critical role in not just achieving compliant LGUs, but transforming LGUs towards having fully embraced and exercise their raison d’etre (reason for being or existence).

For now, this is a big challenge and tough role for DILG, especially its field officers and personnel, who saddle on lots of interlocking tasks and concerns notwithstanding pressures from different social forces.

For one, it is not easy for most DILG field personnel to wrist arms with LGUs especially with local chief executives who provide their offices, supplies, and even their gasoline and mobilization support. Their noses and tongues are practically under the grip, so to speak. So how can they enforce the right orientation, discipline, and skills to erring LGUs who provide their daily sustenance?

Good for well-meaning LGOOs and their teams, as I assume there are a considerable number of “pasaways,” whose local chief executives are progressive and professional public servants. They surely have harmonized movements and can easily achieve desired results.

The case of Bacolod City is something along this line. I know there’s still much to be desired, but Mayor Leonardia’s administration has since been desirous of raising its efficiency and effectiveness in fulfilling its raison d’etre.

Its compliance to DILG directives has often been responded and matched by initiatives to go beyond compliance, towards making programs and projects whose impact are viable and sustainable to the lives of the people and the dynamics of a highly urbanized city.

Nevertheless, I also mentioned that there have been significant improvements in most LGUs in terms of compliance to LGC and governance requisites and performance standards. The DILG can start strengthening the achievers, and use them to extend capacity development and various enabling support to problematic and slow-changing LGUs.

I am sure this will make the expanded devolution process easier and effective in meeting desired results according to the general timeline set by the EO 138 and soon to have detailed phasing from National Committee on Devolution.

In my next series, I will discuss the implications of the full devolution process set by EO 138 to PRRD’s battle cry for a shift to federal state, but seems to have been shelved by other circumstances since the start of his midterm.


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