Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Grading your LGU

How do you know if your local government officials are doing their jobs? Various institutions, government offices, and donor agencies each have a set of standards against which they measure every possible aspect of governance. The indicators can guide citizens in gauging the capability and competence of local officials, in areas of health and social services, infrastructure, environmental protection, budget and planning, etc. The purpose of grading the local officials is not just to keep them on their toes, but to keep them transparent and effective. Also, to arm said officials with correct information and assessment, so that their plans will be more realistic and strategic.

The Local Government Code (RA7160) generally provides an effective mechanism for ensuring the accountability of local government units, through its local officials;  the participation of the private sectors in local governance; and the realization of local autonomy facilitated through improved coordination of national government policies. It also gives citizens two weapons within which to ensure the accountability of local officials and transparency in governance processes: recall and local initiative/referendum, aside, of course, from the election process.

The Local Government Unit (LGU) are now mandated to institute management systems that would translate to better and more efficient delivery of basic services where constituents have every right to demand better benefits in return, such as:

1.    Agriculture
2.    Health
3.    Social Services
4.    Public Works
5.    Tourism
6.    School Building Program
7.    Environment and Natural Resources

In short, the Local Government Code provides for a system/process for local officials’ accountability to the their constituents; recognizes and encourages the active participation of the private sectors or Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) in governance; and the devolution to the LGUs the responsibility of the delivery of the basic services.


The local officials, particularly the Mayor, Vice-Mayor and the Sanggunian members should be accountable to their electorates. There is no ignoring the power wielded by the mayor, who occupies the highest elective position in a town or city. Elected on three-year terms and allowed only three consecutive terms, the mayor is responsible of his community, a task that requires him to take on a variety of roles. The mayor heads the executive branch and has jurisdiction over all national government agencies in the city or municipality. The executive branch implements all municipal ordinances and applicable provincial and national laws and statutes.

The Mayor’s Handbook also defines the following roles of the municipal mayor:

1        1. Ensures that all municipal employees have varied work targets and that they perform   their targets effectively and efficiently;
2        2. Ensures that law enforcement agencies and personnel are performing their jobs in maintaining law and order;
3        3. Ensures that the town is able to access and generate the necessary financial and other resources to implement the municipal development agenda. The LGU is able to impose and collect taxes and secure grants and/or loans from financial sources; and
4        4. Ensures that all resources are effectively and efficiently used for the general welfare.

The Code also outlines functions specific to the vice mayor, who may be given additional tasks by the mayor, such as in-charge of the anti-drug abuse program or the disaster brigade committee. The vice mayor as presiding officer of the Sanggunian, votes only to break a tie. It is through legislation, however, that the vice mayor and the Sanggunian help shape the destiny of the municipality or cityh. Among its tasks are the approval of ordinances and passage or resolutions necessary for the efficient and effective local governance. Ordinances and resolutions enacted by the Sanggunian do not automatically become a law. They still to be presented to the mayor who can either approve or veto it. But the Sanggunian may override the veto by two-thirds vote of its members to render it legally effective.


The private sectors and NGOs are allowed to participate in local governance processes, such as (1) opportunities for entering into joint ventures, (2) entering in the Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) schemes with the LGUs; (3) representation in local special bodies, such as Local Health Board; Local School Board; Local Pre-qualification, Bids and Awards Committee; Local Peace and Order Council; Local Development Council; and People’s Law Enforcement Board; and (4) Identification of sectoral representatives in local legislative bodies.

Local Autonomy

The responsibility for the delivery of the basic services has been devolved to the LGU. It grants LGUs significant regulatory powers that traditionally belonged to the national agencies. Also, autonomy significantly increases the financial resources available to LGUs through increased Internal Revenue Allotments (IRA). Specifically, the devolution (transfer of appropriate personnel, programs, records and equipment) of the following national agencies: (1) DOH (2) DA (3) DSWD (4) DENR to the LGUs. The following are the regulatory functions of the LGUs:

1.    Reclassification of agricultural lands
2.    Inspection of food products for consumption
3.    Adoption of quarantine regulations
4.    Enforcement of the national building code
5.    Regulation and operation of tricycles
6.    Regulation of real estate trade and business
7.    Licensing the establishment of cockpits and regulation of cockfighting

   SOURCE: PCIJ, Investigating Local Governments, 2001

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