Tudela among 75 towns to receive P13.3M grant

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TUDELA town in the Camotes Islands is one of 75 municipalities nationwide selected to receive P13.3 million in funding for enhancing local water supply and sanitation services.

The funding will come from the Support and Assistance Fund to Participatory Budgeting (SAFPB), as announced by Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Benjamin Abalos during the program’s national launch in Cebu City on Feb. 21, 2024.

Abalos said the program aims to improve water supply by expanding and upgrading local water systems in identified municipalities. It will also support sanitation and hygiene facilities involving the construction and rehabilitation of sanitary toilets with hygiene facilities in public places.

He added that the national program supports President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr.'s open government partnership, promoting good governance, participatory governance, and public accountability. Civil society organizations are involved in the project development.

Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Secretary Amenah Pangandaman said they have allocated a total of P1 billion in funding for the program covered by the fiscal year 2024 General Appropriations Act or Republic Act 11975.

This funding will be shared equally among the chosen beneficiaries of the program's partner local government units (LGUs), with each town receiving P13,333,333.

Water, sanitation access

Pangandaman said the program will complement the United Nations' sixth Sustainable Development Goal (SDG), which aims to ensure universal access to water and sanitation.

"We are still under red in that part. Many areas in our country still lack water supply or access to water. It was shown there that those really lacking are the fourth to sixth class municipalities," she said in Filipino, referring to the study by the World Bank released in 2023 on the implementation of the UN's SDG.

Abalos said municipalities that belong to the fourth to sixth income class are eligible for a targeted initiative aimed at enhancing their water and sanitation infrastructure.

"They should have a well-managed LGU utility, and of course they are project-ready. Third, they should be validated by a civil society," he said.

Abalos said that across the country there are a total of 75 towns identified for the project implementation of SAFPB, of which seven of them are from Central Visayas.

The secretary said that aside from Tudela in Cebu, included are the towns of Albuquerque, Bien Unido, Dagohoy and San Miguel in Bohol; Zamboanguita in Negros Oriental and Larena in Siquijor.

SunStar Cebu tried to obtain the full list of the 75 towns identified for SAFPB implementation from DILG 7. However, a representative said they cannot provide the details at that time.

In his presentation, Abalos said 455 municipalities in the country lack access to water. As of 2023, 340 of these municipalities have successfully addressed their water scarcity issues, leaving 115 still grappling with this challenge.

He said that 88 out of these 115 LGUs are located in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. Abalos did not disclose the names of these LGUs.

Funding guidelines

To ensure effective fund utilization, Pangandaman said there is a stringent process to follow for fund release and project management has been outlined.

Beneficiary towns are required to submit a notarized omnibus sworn statement endorsing the necessary documents to the DILG by April 30, 2024.

Upon verification by DILG regional offices, the endorsed documents will be forwarded to the DILG Central Office for review and recommendation to the DBM for fund release.

Upon receipt of the allocated funds, they are mandated to record the SAFPB fund as a trust fund and notify DILG of the fund transfer within 30 calendar days.

Between March and April of this year, various government agencies will collaborate to gather all the requirements and documents for the program.

The funds are planned to be released to the 75 LGUs in May, and the procurement process is scheduled to take place between June and July.

The projects should be implemented no later than December 31, 2025.

The budget secretary said any unutilized or undisbursed funds are required to be reverted to the Bureau of Treasury, and the DILG must be notified of any funds reversion.

Pangandaman said the program imposes strict prohibitions on fund utilization, prohibiting diversion for purposes other than the designated projects, funding projects already covered by other sources, and expenditures on specified items such as personal services, administrative expenses, travel, and procurement of non-project-related assets.

Abalos said that project implementation must adhere to approved designs, plans, and specifications in compliance with relevant laws, circulars, and regulations governing procurement, budgeting, accounting, and auditing.

SunStar Cebu tried to contact Tudela Mayor Greman Solante for an interview on Thursday to discuss their implementation of the SAFPB assistance but to no avail.


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