IS IMPERATIVE in governance to make society enjoy its fruits.
When we talk of governance, we can’t just ignore how we conduct elections. The two are different concepts but closely interlinked to make society effectively functional and beneficial to the people.
Good participatory governance is not the automatic result of elections. But a good electoral exercise is ‘sine qua non’ or a major condition to attaining good participatory governance.
Structuring and operationalization of good participatory governance take place more after elections, and the result of the institutionalization of a system of partnership between those who govern and the governed.
Institutionalization of the system of partnership in local governance has a codal basis in our 1987 Philippine Constitution and the Local Government Code of 1991, and both premised on the concept of modern republics that the right, responsibility and accountability to govern are equally shared by those who govern and those who are governed.
In this regard, the CSOs and NGOs have the bigger responsibility to assert the institutionalization of the system of partnership in the LDC and LSBs, and in the whole range of governance concerns and decision-making. They should never let alone the LGU officials take everything and decide the course and fate of the society on their own hands alone.
The CSOs and NGOs can help ensure accountability and transparency in governance, and where both are entrenched on the rule that public office is a public trust. The first focuses on the regularity of fiscal transactions and faithful compliance with and adherence to, legal requirements and administrative policies. It is not only a government obligation but also an indispensable means to ensure responsiveness to the needs and rights of one’s constituency. Effective accountability and responsiveness can only be assured through the meaningful participation of the communities involved. The second on the information systems that will inform the public of the following, a) policies, rules and procedures, b) work programs, projects, and performance targets, c) performance reports and d) all other documents as may hereafter be classified as public information. Such information shall be utilized solely for the purpose of informing the public of such policies, programs, and accomplishment, thus, generate continuous people’s support and meaningful participation in the development of the city.
Given the limited number of CSOs and NGOs in LDC and LSBs, the CSOs must be able to convene the People’s Council as mandated by DILG and the People’s Council for Change as advocacy partner of DILG BK-PMO, both as a broad assembly of LGU accredited and non-accredited CSOs and NGOs in the locality, and whose purpose is to truly represent the true sentiments, concerns, demands, and interests of the civil society.
The PC/PCC must submit to the City government through LDC and LSBs, and also direct to the Sanggunian, the major issues, concerns, and interests of the CSOs, NGOs, and MSMEs for effective actions.
The CSOs and NGOs through PC/PCC could also engage in joint ventures and other cooperative undertakings with the city to engage in the delivery of certain basic services, capability-building and livelihood projects, and to develop local enterprises designed to improve productivity and income, promote ecological balance and enhance the economic and social well-being of the people within the framework of equitable and sustainable development.
In addition to dealing with LGUs, and ensure their sustainability and effective participation in governance, the CSOs and NGOs through PC/PCC could also enter into partnerships with other organizations, development funding agencies, other entities/offices, locally and internationally, which are in line with its principles and programs, and for resource mobilization.
All partnerships and contracts entered into with the LGU shall be subject to compliance with the national accounting and auditing procedures. A memorandum of agreement may also be signed by the city government and the PC/PCC to ensure accountability and transparency of funds management. Likewise, the PC/PCC must assure that its internal fund management and programs, projects and activity reports are open to all inquiries from all concerned stakeholders including the local government once, the system of partnership is institutionalized.
This is the beauty of institutionalizing participatory governance. This is the commitment given by Mayor Leonardia when he formed the CMO Sectoral Concerns, as the first step towards institutionalization of the system of partnership between the LGU and the CSOs.
This is an unprecedented undertaking in LGUs history especially in the Visayas.
The DILG is certainly jubilant about this experience, and now contemplating templating it for the rest of LGUs.
As president of the League of Cities in the Philippines, Mayor Leonardia is in a position to promote this experience and template for its members, to start with.