CITIZEN LEADERS and four local government units in Western Pangasinan have set in motion a “participatory budget monitoring mechanism” to enhance people’s direct and active role in monitoring the use of public funds as well as ensure transparent and effective local governance – key advocacies vigorously pursued by the late Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo.
About 160 leaders representing farmers, fisherfolk, youth, women, elderly, public utility drivers, religious groups, professionals and other sectors in Alaminos city and the municipalities of Dasol, Burgos and Bani partnered with their local officials to monitor the implementation of projects listed in the LGUs’ 2012 Annual Investment Plans (AIPs) particularly those related to millennium development goals (MDGs).
The initiative, facilitated by development organization La Liga Policy Institute (La Liga) under the Empowerment of the Poor Program of the National Anti-Poverty Commission (EPP-NAPC), was launched on the first week of August and is now into the stage of the leaders’ visiting and familiarization with the local Planning and Development office, Budget office, Agriculture office, Health office, Engineering Office, Accounting office and others.
The mechanism involves six stages, namely: 1.) consensus-building among citizen leaders and LGU officials per town on the selection of project/s with AIP budget line item; 2.) the visits and familiarization with concerned LGU offices and project sites; 3.) citizen leaders’ review and analysis of related documents; 4.) joint session with LGU officials for reflection and feedback; 5.) budget monitoring report preparation; and 6.) citizens’ assembly for all project areas to present results and outcome.
“This initiative gives form and substance to the spirit of participatory governance and people empowerment as espoused by the Aquino administration and especially by the dynamic promoter himself of empowerment at the grassroots level, the late DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo,” La Liga Managing Director Roland Cabigas said.
Robredo initiated the DILG Seal of Good Housekeeping (SGH) award-and-incentive system for LGUs exemplifying excellence in good governance especially in the aspects of planning, fiscal management, transparency, accountability and performance management.
“For their part, the chief executives of the four LGUs, namely: Mayor Hernani Braganza of Alaminos, Mayor Marcelo Navarro, Jr. of Bani, Mayor Noel Nacar of Dasol and Mayor Alberto Guiang, Jr. of Burgos vowed to pursue the institutionalization of the participatory local budget monitoring mechanism for which they forged a Memorandum of Understanding with La Liga as part of the EPP rollout,” Cabigas added.
Specific MDG items regarded as prime concerns of the four LGUs are: local poverty, primary health care and maternal mortality, universal primary education and environmental sustainability.
Among the MDG-related projects selected for monitoring are: the Organic Farming program, Health Care Fund and Community Development Fund in Alaminos; the Integrated Coastal Management Program and the AgriPinoy and Agriculture Programs in Bani; Organic Farming program and the Garantisadong Pambata program (provision of Vitamin A and Iron to children aged 6‐59 months old) in Burgos; and the purchase and distribution of Biologics or biotechnology medicinal products in Dasol.
“The participatory budget monitoring mechanism initiative is part of La Liga’s implementation of the EPP in partnership with the NAPC. It builds on La Liga’s work with the four LGUs on the localization of the MDGs and citizens’ participation in local planning and budgeting. The earlier phase of the project was dubbed MDG Pathways Project and was supported by the European Union (EU),” Cabigas said.
La Liga also implemented in Western Pangasinan the Organikong Palayan Project supported by the Department of Agriculture.
These projects form part of the Institute’s core development themes which include: promoting effective governance; sustainable agriculture; environment protection; climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction; and LGU Alliance building. (La Liga Policy Institute)