Public urged to keep track of LGU’s executive and legislative agenda

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/22 August)–The public should scrutinize the executive and legislative agenda (ELA) of local government units (LGUs) to promote transparency and accountability among local officials, an official of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) said.

The call came amid mounting demands for the abolition of the graft-tainted Priority Development Assistance Fund or pork barrel following the controversy involving the P10-billion pork barrel scam allegedly instigated by fugitive businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles, who was charged with kidnapping whistleblower Benhur Luy.

Ronelo Alvarez, DILG-Bukidnon director, said the ELA, which is mandatory for LGUs to draft and present in the first 100 days of their term, is supposedly their “social contract with the people.”

He told MindaNews Tuesday the ELA should contain the LGU’s committed programs, projects and activities for the delivery of basic services in their three-year term.

Chapter 2 Section 17 of the Local Government Code of 1991 outlines the basic services that LGUs from the barangay, municipal, city and provincial levels should provide to the people.

Alvarez said it is also necessary for an LGU to inform its constituents, through public assemblies, the content of the ELA so that people will know what to expect from them.

He explained that when the local chief executives and the members of the sanggunians (legislative bodies) aspired for their present positions, they all had their respective platforms.

“This should be synchronized with the comprehensive plans of the LGUs, otherwise they will not have a common direction. It will be a mess,” he added in his recorded interview for the Piniyalan radio program scheduled for airing on August 24.

The broadcast, however, will be postponed as radio station DXDB goes off air from August 22 to 24 for corporate evaluation and planning.

Alvarez stressed that failure to synchronize the plans “would impact on the way the executive and the legislative bodies relate to each other.”

“The delivery of basic services will be affected,” he added, noting that the Local Government Code also ensures checks and balances between the legislative and the executive branches.

Alvarez said that LGUs are also required to ensure the participation of representatives from non-government organizations or people’s organizations in the different local development and policy-making councils.

Alvarez said there is a separate process to formulate the ELA, which should be done in a workshop outside of the regular functions of the legislative and the executive officials.

Last August 15, the DILG-Bukidnon completed the trainers’ training for coaches who will help LGUs formulate their ELAs, he added.

Alvarez told MindaNews earlier the ELA must be finished within the first 100 days of the term of the local officials. The new set of officials began their stint on June 30.

He said that there are built in mechanisms within the LGU to ensure that the programs, projects and activities in the ELA will be implemented in three years.

Alvarez said the local sanggunian’s oversight committee should monitor and follow up the approved programs, projects and activities outlined in the ELA.

On the part of the executive department, it should have a project monitoring committee to monitor the implementation of projects aside from the annual accomplishment report of local chief executives through their state of the province, city or municipal addresses, he added.

But Alvarez stressed “that nothing compares to the role of the citizens and the private sector to monitor, remind and follow-up with the LGUs on its delivery of basic services.”

“As taxpayers, they have [the right] to know how the LGUs manage public resources and how they deliver basic services using the funds,” he added.

He cited that the DILG, in line with the self-assessing Local Government Performance Management System, is pilot-testing a citizen’s satisfaction index to monitor if people are happy on the delivery of basic services in their area.

He added that in Northern Mindanao, it is being piloted in El Salvador City, Misamis Oriental.

Alvarez admitted that the DILG cannot directly penalize the LGUs that do not comply with the implementation of the executive and legislative agenda.

But he cited the Seal of Good Housekeeping mechanism initiated by the late DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo.

He said that if LGUs fail to acquire the seal, they lose opportunities like availing loans from government financial institutions and non-inclusion to national-government funded capacity building projects. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)