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Best LGU practices cited, from reducing disaster risk to collecting more revenues

Mr Llanto's piece is well-written, but he has forgotten to mention that the Special Citation for the four Local Government Units was sponsored by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Better late than later.

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BY Jesus F. Llanto
Wednesday, 11 February 2009
Newsbreak Magazine
www.abs-cbnNEWS.com


A scorecard to measure performance and improve governance in the city. A barangay government code that has resulted in more revenues and better peace and order situation. A market organized by the provincial government but run by farmers. A disaster risk management and risk reduction program of a calamity-prone province.

These are programs of four local government units (LGUs) that were recently given special citation by the Galing Pook Awards—which recognizes best practices of LGUs—for their programs that provide incentives at the local level to improve performance and governance.

The local governments that received the Special Citation on Local Capacity Incentive Mechanism for Good Governance are: Barangay Sanito in Ipil Zamboanga Sibugay, San Fernando City in Pampanga, and the provinces of Negros Oriental and Albay.

Eddie Dorotan, executive director of the Galing Pook Awards told abs-cbnnews.com/Newsbreak that the citation highlights efforts of the local government to come up with innovative programs that give incentives to further improve the delivery of basic services.

According to the souvenir program of the Galing Pook Awards, the recipients of the special citation proved that LGUs have “taken up the challenge of decentralization” brought by the enactment of the Local Government Code and have “continually innovated to make delivery of services more efficient.”

“Local officials often have insufficient preparation, capacities and in some cases, very limited resources, to respond to the new demands and challenges…Some LGUs have found creative ways to better serve their constituents, in part by looking to themselves, their communities and their peers for new ideas and approaches,” the souvenir program reads.

San Fernando City: Scorecard
San Fernando City started to adapt the public governance system (PGS), which uses scorecards to measure performances and accomplishments, in 2006. Back then, the city, said Mayor Oscar Rodriguez, was having difficulty enticing investors and encouraging participation of the private sector in the government.

“We realized that we need to cut red tape and improve transparency,” said Rodriguez, who learned about the PGS in a conference in 2005.

The PGS is an adaptation of the Balanced Scorecard (BSC), a measurement and management system for businesses developed by the Harvard Business School that has been used by public institutions worldwide.

The local government of San Fernando City—from the office of the mayor down to the city department—adapted the scorecard to measure their actual performance. Rodriguez said city departments that meet their targets were rewarded with bonuses while those that performed badly were not entitled to the rewards.

Reforms in securing business permits were also introduced. Getting a permit from the mayor’s office now takes a minimum of two hours to a maximum of two days, compared to two to three weeks before PGS was introduced.

The adoption of the PGS has been credited for the improvement of business climate in the city. Since its implementation, San Fernando has since attracted 2,200 businesses or an average 16 percent annually over the past three years. Business and real property taxes collected from these establishments have decreased the city’s dependency from the internal revenue allotment (IRA) from 52.85 percent in 2007 to 49 percent in 2008.

Rodriguez told abs-cbnNews.com/Newsbreak that the challenge for them is to bring the program to the barangay level. “We are currently training barangay officials through seminars on the PGS.”

The mayor added that they already institutionalized the program by passing an ordinance.

Sanito: Barangay Code
In 2003, barangay officials of Sanito in Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay were looking for solutions to the influx of informal settlers, worsening peace and order situation, widespread poverty, and the barangay’s limited financial capability.

The following year, the Sanito Barangay Government Code of 2004 was introduced as barangay officials realized the need for a law that would give them more powers to respond to the problems.

“We patterned it after the Local Government Code but we reduce it to the barangay level,” Sanito barangay chair Jose Cabaral Tiu told abs-cbnNews.com/Newsbreak.

The barangay code, which was amended in 2005, gave Sanito the power to impose additional fees like Barangay Public Works Development Fee, Barangay Water Development Fee and the Coastal Resource Development Fee. The code also required collection of P30 per month as garbage collection fees and designated retired military and police officials as members of the barangay anti-crime units.

Fees collected by the barangay increased the local generated income to P700, 000 per year from P49, 000 before the passage of the barangay code. Tiu said the increase in local income has made them less dependent on the IRA or their share on the tax collected by the national government.

“We cannot just rely on the IRA forever,” Tiu said.

Negros Oriental: Empowering farmers
In Negros Oriental, the provincial agricultural office (PAO) initiated a marketing activity called “tabo” where farmers are provided easy access to the markets.

The tabo sa PAO is a market where locally-produced agriculture and fish products are sold at farm gate prices. It started with the establishment of nurseries and practical farming classes in municipal agricultural centers where farmers discuss farming issues to attain food self-sufficiency.

Negros Oriental governor Emilio Macias II told abs-cbnNews.com/Newsbreak that farmers were also taught new ways of cultivating crops. “The farmers were introduced new techniques of planting corn to increase productivity and were brought to a farm where they cam apply these techniques.”

Macias said that the LGU saw the need to improve farmers’ access to the markets as farmers produced more than enough for their families. The PAO organized the farmers into an association and allow them to manage the tabo, where they directly sell their produce to the buyers.

“We were able to eliminate the middlemen,” Macias said.

To support the farmers, the local government did not collect rents and fees for the use of stalls and space during market days. This helped increase the income of the farmers.

Apart from providing access to markets, the program also features mutual death assistance for the farmers and their family members, introduction of waste segregation and production of organic fertilizer to farmers and regular training sessions on farming techniques, environment, health and sanitation.

Albay: Disaster risk management
Meanwhile, the province of Albay, which is often battered by typhoons and affected by the volcanic activities of Mt. Mayon, was able to minimize casualty and damage brought by disasters by establishing an agency that focus on disaster risk management and reduction program.

Governor Joey Salceda told abs-cbnNews.com that his province’s program is different because it is the only permanent institution on disaster risk management in the country.

“Other LGUs have councils but we have an institution with a permanent personnel and budget,” Salceda said.

Albay’s provincial government established the Albay Public Safety and Emergency Management Office (APSEMO) in 1995 to develop a community-based disaster risk management approach. The APSEMO trains communities and teach them to conduct disaster preparedness activities, like quarterly drills and exercises.

“We bring the trainings to the barangays because barangay officials are the first respondents,” Salceda said, adding that communities are also empowered to decide when to implement pre-emptive evacuation during the disasters. He added that communities are equipped with early warning devices and tools.

The local government also conducted mapping of disaster-prone areas and formulate a comprehensive land use plan (CLUP) to identify danger zones, commercial centers and residential areas.

“We transfer some of the projects of the province to places where is there is no risk from disasters,” the governor added.

Salceda said that aside from the calamity funds, the local government allocates portion of their IRA to this program. The program, he added, is being replicated by the provinces of Pampanga, Sarangani and Sorsogon.

19 finalists
These four awardees were selected from the 19 finalists for this year’s Galing Pook Awards.

Barangay Sanito, San Fernando City and the province of Albay, meanwhile, were also cited as among the ten best outstanding local governance programs cited by the Galing Pook. Other programs of LGUs that made it to the top ten are as follow:

Children First Program of North Cotabato that promotes camaraderie among Moro, indigenous people (IP), and Christian youth through workshops, scholarships and skills training. Graduates of this program are encouraged to become peace advocates in their communities.
Quezon City’s rehabilitation program for Payatas dumpsite
Allah Valley Landscape Development Alliance of Sultan Kudarat and South Cotabato that seeks to protect upland areas and river systems in the provinces.
Centralized warehousing of Marikina City that improves distribution and utilization of supplies by the city government.
San Carlos City Sustainable City Project that promotes development while balancing economic growth and environmental protection.
Family Townhomes Project in Taguig City that provides affordable housing units to poor families
Pampanga’s program to improve quarry tax collection.
(abs-cbnNEWS.com/Newsbreak)

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