LGU for peo­ple’s de­vel­op­ment

Sun Star Bacolod - - Opinion -

THAT is the big­gest chal­lenge to all the win­ners of the just con­cluded elec­tions. Win­ning the votes is one thing. Turn­ing them as a plat­form to meet peo­ple’s con­cerns, needs and as­pi­ra­tions is an­other.

The for­mer re­quired ex­cel­lent cam­paign­ing. The lat­ter de­mands sin­cere com­mit­ment, pas­sion for pub­lic ser­vice, grasp of the el­e­ments of good lo­cal gov­er­nance, and de­vel­op­ment mindset.

Good lo­cal gov­er­nance sim­ply means mak­ing the pub­lic in­sti­tu­tion ef­fec­tively works to in­vig­o­rate lo­cal econ­omy, cre­ate job and liveli­hood op­por­tu­ni­ties, en­hance peo­ple’s ac­cess to so­cial ser­vices, em­power peo­ple to be­come ac­tive in gov­er­nance and make bet­ter po­lit­i­cal de­ci­sions, and cre­ate con­di­tions for a peace­ful and safe en­vi­ron­ment.

It is a dis­turb­ing fact how­ever that most Lo­cal Govern­ment Units (LGUS) are dys­func­tional, act­ing far from the above qual­i­ties as de­fined in Lo­cal Govern­ment Code (LGC), Memo Cir­cu­lars of DILG, and the Philip­pine Con­sti­tu­tion. They act like a pri­vate prop­erty and a milk­ing cow of po­lit­i­cal fam­i­lies, fief­doms, con­trac­tors and de­vel­op­ers.

They serve as ex­ten­sion of the ha­cien­das, cor­po­rate farms and other busi­nesses of the landed elites.

They hire peo­ple like pa­trons, with utter dis­re­gard for the civil ser­vice rules, stan­dards and ethics. In ef­fect, they pro­mote and in­sti­tu­tion­al­ize a po­lit­i­cal cul­ture of pa­tron­age.

All of­fi­cial papers can’t get through their hands with­out the im­print of their ego and vested in­ter­ests. All projects whether lo­cal or na­tion­ally funded are with “SOP cuts” that goes into their per­sonal pocket.

They dip their hands into the LGU’S kitty any­time they want as if it’s their pri­vate bank ac­count.

These ex­plain why cor­rup­tion con­tin­ues un­in­ter­rupted and bleed our pub­lic trea­sury, and de­prived our peo­ple of the vi­tal so­cial ser­vices and de­vel­op­ment they de­serve.

Hunt­ing, at­tack­ing and pros­e­cut­ing the crooks is nec­es­sary but it won’t stop them and oth­ers from cor­rupt­ing, even af­ter they are caught – be­cause the LGU en­vi­ron­ment is deeply cor­rup­tive and for decades have not been cor­rected sub­stan­tially by those in po­si­tion of power and au­thor­ity.

Of course, we have prob­lems with the char­ac­ter and val­ues of of­fi­cials, es­pe­cially those who gained their seats by ‘gold, guns and goons’ or by the help of their po­lit­i­cal pa­trons. But the key prob­lem re­mains in the pre­vail­ing sys­tem that breeds crooks and crim­i­nals.

That’s why there’s no way they can func­tion and func­tion truly for the peo­ple un­less the co­dal rules, poli­cies and struc­ture in lo­cal gov­er­nance are trans­formed from their present quag­mire, and the qual­i­ties and stan­dards for elec­tive of­fi­cials and ap­pointive ones are re­de­fined.

For now, it is my un­so­licited advice that some im­por­tant pil­lars for mak­ing the pub­lic in­sti­tu­tion works should be fol­lowed.

One, straighten the pub­lic ser­vice ori­en­ta­tion & eth­i­cal stan­dards of lo­cal govern­ment of­fi­cials and en­hance their ca­pac­i­ties to per­form their vi­tal func­tions set by the Con­sti­tu­tion, the Lo­cal Govern­ment Code (LGC) and the De­part­ment of In­te­rior and Lo­cal Govern­ment (DILG).

Set in mo­tion the up­dat­ing of the Com­pre­hen­sive Land Use Plan (CLUP) and the Com­pre­hen­sive De­vel­op­ment Plan (CDP), then make func­tional the Lo­cal De­vel­op­ment Coun­cil (LDC), Lo­cal Spe­cial Bodies (LSB), and the en­list­ment of gen­uine and in­de­pen­dent Civil So­ci­ety Or­ga­ni­za­tions (CSOS), not those in the fa­vored list of the lo­cal of­fi­cials and DILG field of­fice.

Two, in­sti­tu­tion­al­ize sys­tem of trans­parency to en­sure the pub­lic dis­clo­sure of all its ser­vices, trans

ac­tions, income, spend­ing, in­clud­ing life­styles of its of­fi­cials and per­son­nel in ac­cor­dance with poli­cies and guidelines set by LGC, DILG, DBM, COA, and CSC.

Three, make func­tional the LDCS that truly re­flect the con­cerns, needs and as­pi­ra­tions of the peo­ple, not the whims and caprices of lo­cal ex­ec­u­tives.

Four, op­er­a­tional­ize the cit­i­zen’s griev­ance mech­a­nism as pro­vided in the LGC, and where cases are heard fairly and re­solved ju­di­ciously.

Fifth, give equal im­por­tant to the de­vel­op­ment of the cor­po­rate char­ac­ter of the LGU by en­hanc­ing its ca­pac­i­ties for as­sets man­age­ment, re­source gen­er­a­tion, lo­cal eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment plan­ning, and cre­ation of job and liveli­hood op­por­tu­ni­ties. This is the only way for LGUS to be­come less de­pen­dent on their 20% IRA share, and stop loot­ing lo­cal trea­sury, holdup ping their peo­ple with all sorts of taxes.

Only when these things are done, can we sin­cerely say that LGUS are truly and ef­fec­tively func­tional.

By the way, an­other un­so­licited advice, LGUS should also tap the ser­vices of State Uni­ver­si­ties and Col­leges (SUCS), CSOS, Learn­ing and Re­search and Train­ing In­sti­tutes, and spe­cial re­source con­sul­tants. They can help in ac­com­plish­ing cer­tain func­tions and tasks more ef­fi­ciently.

Well, these are big and daunt­ing tasks to make LGUS work for peo­ple’s de­vel­op­ment.

If some politi­cians and of­fi­cials pre­fer to ig­nore these and go their own vested ways, they should vol­un­tar­ily va­cate their post, or the long arm of jus­tice will kick them out.

Just a per­spec­tive.*

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