DILG introduces ‘seal of good local governance’

Raisa Serafica
The 'Seal of Good Local Governance' will be implemented annually, starting this year.

IMPROVED VERSION. The Seal of Good Local Governance replaces the Seal of Good Housekeeping. All photos by Raisa Serafica/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – While the Seal of Good Housekeeping (SGH), a mechanism which tracks performance of local government units (LGUs), produced 84% compliance from local government units, anecdotal and official reports by the Commission on Audit (COA) still show that corruption persists at the local level.

What then is the more accurate reflection of reality on the ground?

This was the question raised by Department of Interior Local Government secretary Mar Roxas to a crowd composed of local government officials and civil society groups during one of the break-out sessions of the first day of the Good Governance Summit. The summit was held on January 15, Wednesday. 

In an effort to further strengthen accountability at the LGU level, DILG introduced the Seal of Good Local Governance, a derivative and improved version of the Seal of Good Housekeeping. 

Improved version

Introduced by the late and former DILG secretary Jesse Robredo in 2011, the SGH monitors and awards LGUs with good performance in internal housekeeping specifically in the areas of local legislation, development planning, resource generation, and resource allocation.  

Expounding from SGH, the SGLG has 6 basic elements: 1) good financial keeping, 2) disaster preparedness, 3) social protection, 4) business friendliness and competitiveness, 5) environment management, and 6) peace and order. 

Retaining the SGH module, the first element of the SGLG will look into LGUs adherence to the procurement process. 

An LGU needs to comply to all 3 core elements of the SGLG – good financial keeping, disaster preparedness, and social protection – and at least one from the other assessment areas to be able to become an SGLG recipient. 

The SGLG will be implemented this year and will cover all provinces, cities, and municipalities. Qualified LGUs will be awarded annually in October.

Beyond housekeeping, Roxas added that SGLG introduces mechanisms for the LGUs “to be able provide services and be responsive to various other needs” of their constituents.

Participatory budgeting

In line with the discussion on good governance in LGUs, the break-out session also looked into the first two years of implementation of the grassroots participatory budgeting process (GPBP). 

Previously known as bottom-up budgeting, the GPBP is an initiative of the Aquino government supposedly to ensure that hyperlocal needs on poverty reduction will be addressed in the annual budget preparation and legislation. 

“At dahil ang strategy ng gobyerno ay empowement of the poor, at mahirap i-empower ang mahirap kapag hindi sila kasama sa proyekto, kaya ang value ng program ay participation of organized poor,” National Anti-Poverty Commission secretary Joel Rocamora explained.

(Because it is difficult to empower the poor if they are not part of poverty rerduction programs, the value of GPBP lies in the participation of the organized poor.) 

START-UP PROBLEMS. DILG Usec Bimbo Fernandez shared the assessment on the first two years of implementation of the grassroots participatory budgeting

The number of cities and municipalities covered by GPBP increased from 595 to 1226 during the preparation of the 2013 and 2014 budget. For the 2015 budget, the project will be covering all 1634 LGUs.

Funding for the GPBP also increased from P8 billion, P20 billion, and P26 billion in 2013, 2014, and 2015, respectively. 

Start-up problems

However the program encountered start-up problems during its first two years of implementation, according to DILG Usec Bimbo Fernandez. CODE NGO executive director Dodo Macasaet and San Carlos City, Negros Occidental mayor Gerardo Valmayor Jr echoed this observation.

For the GPBP programs in the 2013 budget, only 874 projects have been completed while 2,283 projects are still underway. Meanwhile, there are 2,737 unobligated projects or projects that are yet to be implemented.

President Benigno Aquino III and Congress have already extended the implementation of the projects to 2014. 

“We hope that, together with the LGUs, people and other monitoring bodies, we can also analyze these unobligated projects and find out how come these were not implemented and what do we do the get them implemented,” Fernandez added. – Rappler.com

Raisa Serafica

Raisa Serafica is the Unit Head of Civic Engagement of Rappler. As the head of MovePH, Raisa leads the on ground engagements of Rappler aimed at building a strong community of action in the Philippines. Through her current and previous roles at Rappler, she has worked with different government agencies, collaborated with non-governmental organizations, and trained individuals mostly on using digital technologies for social good.