By making sure that the government delivers basic services and facilities to the people, the Local Government Code (LGC), particularly Section 17 thereof, was enacted precisely to respond to the people quest for good governance and because the national government recognized that Local Government Units (LGUs) are in a better position to identify and respond more efficiently to the most basic needs of their constituencies.
Basic services for the LGUs can be defined as anything that government renders in order to meet the subsistence, economic, and social needs of its people. Potable water and domestic production are examples of subsistence needs. Economic needs include roads and transport systems, market, agricultural inputs, postharvest facilities, and electricity. Heath services and facilities, as well as education services and facilities, are considered social needs.
In a way, this so-called “basic services clause” of Section 17 provides constituencies instant leads in determining local government officials are doing its functions properly and efficiently, specifically:
- To ascertain if the local government is setting realistic and appropriate standards and targets;
- To assess the local government’s performance; and
- To identify which local government is to be held accountable for failed or unimplemented services.
Constituents should be on guard on how these basic services are delivered. At the start of the year, the Mayor submits his or her budget message to the Sanggunian Bayan. The document summarizes the “functions, projects, and activities to be accomplished in pursuit of the goals and objectives of the LGUs…specifically the delivery of basic services or facilities.” From the budget message, therefore, the local people will have an idea of the quality and direction of services that the local administration intends to deliver in the coming year. For example, the budget message will reveal how the Mayor intends to solve basic problem of livelihood and other pro-poor projects, solid waste disposal system, collection of local taxes, etc.
The local development plan, prepared by the Local Development Council, is another document that should be easily accessible and can be mined for review purposes. Among other purposes, the local development plan:
- Identifies the existing sectoral problems in the locality;
- Sets targets in addressing these problems;
- Specifies what projects will achieve these targets;
- Where the funds for these projects will be sourced; and
- ·How the projects will be implemented.
Later on, we can check out the Commission on Audit (COA) Annual Audit Report to find out if the targets set at the start of the fiscal year have been met. It will also show if its expenditures the past year match the programmed ones.
The Local Government Code itself stresses that effective basic service delivery is the primary responsibility of local elected officials. Specifically, the Mayor’s responsibility is to make sure the services are delivered, while the duty of the local legislative bodies is to appropriate the needed funds.
Here are the Basic Services and Facilities (Based on Section 17 of the LGC) Assigned to Municipality by Sector:
1. Agriculture and Environment/Natural Resources. Includes the following: (a) dispersal of livestock and poultry and other seeding materials for aquaculture, (b) palay, corn, and vegetable seed farms, fruit tree, coconut, and other kinds of seedling nurseries, (c) quality control of copra and improvement and development of local distribution channels, preferably through cooperatives, (d) inter-barangay irrigation system, (e) enforcement of fishery laws in municipal waters, including conservation of mangroves, and (f) implementation of community-based forestry projects.
2. Health. Includes (a) implementation of programs and projects on primary health care, maternal and child care, and communicable and non-communicable disease control services, (b) access to secondary and tertiary health services, and (c) purchase of medicines, medical supplies, and equipment needed to carry out the services enumerated here. Does the level of the LGU’s expenditures on health services in general corresponds to the severity of the problems at hand? Is health a priority at all in the local budget?
Also falling under health services is the maintenance of general hygiene and sanitation in the locality. This includes the regulation of public markets, slaughterhouses, and lodging houses, as well as the inspection of meat, poultry and dairy products being sold.
3. Public Works. Infrastructure facilities intended primarily to service the needs of the residents of the municipality which are funded out of municipal funds including but not limited to, the following: (a) local roads and bridges, (b) school buildings and other facilities for public elementary and secondary schools, (c) clinics, health centers and other health facilities necessary to carry out health services, (d) communal irrigation, small water impounding projects and other similar projects, (e) fish ports, (f) artesian wells and water supply systems, (g) seawalls, dikes, drainage and sewerage, and flood control, (h) traffic signals and road signs, and (i) other similar activities.
The Code is very specific about the limited responsibilities over infrastructure facilities that have been devolved to local governments. LGUs have the say on projects funded out of local funds, and local buildings and facilities, such as town halls, plazas, etc., also become the responsibility of local engineering offices. However, the construction, repair, and maintenance of public schools are to be shouldered by the Department of Education. Also, ensuring the safety of private buildings as well as public infrastructures is part of the public works services expected of local governments.
4. Public Buildings and Other Facilities. Includes: (a) Municipal buildings; cultural centers; public parks, including freedom parks, playgrounds, and sports facilities and equipment; and other similar facilities, (b) public markets, slaughterhouses, and other municipal enterprises, (c) public cemetery, and (d) sites for police and fire stations and substations and the municipal jail.
5. Social Welfare and Development. Includes: (a) programs and projects on child and youth welfare, family and community welfare, women’s welfare, welfare of the elderly and disabled persons, (b) community-based rehabilitation programs for vagrants, beggars, street children, scavengers, juvenile delinquents, and victims of drug abuse,(c) livelihood and other pro-poor projects, (d) nutrition services, and (e) family planning services.
Also classified under this sector are programs for poverty alleviation, population development, disaster relief, and those aimed at rebel returnees. Does the municipality where typhoon occurs have a Disaster Preparedness Plan?
6. Tourism. Tourism facilities and other tourist attractions, including the acquisition of equipment, regulation and supervision of business concessions, and security services for such facilities. The Code, by repealing PD No. 381, has effectively allowed local government to go into tourism development project without having to seek approval from the Philippine Tourism Authority. PTA’s authority is now limited to accrediting facilities covered by development projects undertaken in tourist zones.
7. Peace and Order. Monitoring the enforcement of laws at the local level. It should be determined what the community’s top security problems are, if these are being adequately addressed and what strategies are being adopted by the local government to combat them. The mayor has operational supervision and control over the PNP units, except during the 30-day period before and after an election.
8. Other Services and Facilities. Includes (a) solid waste disposal system or environment management system and services, or facilities related to general hygiene and (b) information services, which includes investment and job placement information systems, tax and marketing information systems, and maintenance of a public library.
In the areas of housing, telecommunications, and tourism, local governments play supporting roles to the National Housing Authority, DOTC and Department of Tourism, respectively.
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