Lessons in governance from 2016 Government Service Awardee Austere Panadero
November 02, 2016
Twenty five years after the enactment of the Local Government Code decentralizing national services to local government units (LGUs), the Philippines is now more capable of addessing the basic needs of its citizens.
“LGUs are in a better position to perform,” said Austere Panadero, Undersecretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).
Panadero gave the lecture “Transitions and Transformations: Reflections on Local Governance in the Philippines in the last 25 Years” on October 8, 2016 at the San Alberto Hurtado Hall at the Ateneo de Manila University campus in Loyola Heights, Quezon City. The talk was part of Ateneo’s 2016 Traditional University Awards - The Public Lectures. The 2016 Government Service Award recipient spoke about the changes in public service since the passing of the Local Government Code.
The transition periods in local governance may be divided into 2, Panadero said— capacity building and performance appraisal. DILG’s function is to “help local governments carry out their functions,” Panadero explained.
“When the Local Government Code was passed in 1991, the only hurdle was local capacity.” The first 19 years were spent raising the capacity of LGUs. For instance, local officials then had no power to respond to an emergency. The system, Panadero pointed out, was very centralized. The Local Government Code gave autonomy to the LGUs, enabling them to be self-reliant. LGUs then did not have Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) — income received from the national government. The passing of the code allowed each LGU to collect IRA. Calculated based on a unit’s land area and population, IRA may be used to expedite socioeconomic projects for the community.
Panadero also expounded on some programs that DILG has introduced to inspire more LGUs in providing better services. These include the Seal of Good Local Governance (SGLG). The program challenges LGUs to continue good governance practices. LGUs with SGLC must pass 3 core assessment areas (Good Financial Housekeeping, Social Protection and Disaster Preparedness) and at least one essential assessment area (Business Friendliness and Competitiveness, Peace and Order, or Environmental Management). He talked about DILG’s Full Disclosure Policy Portal (http://fdpp.blgs.gov.ph/) that allows the public to “view, download, and print financial documents” of how their LGU spends their budget. This has helped LGU materials become readily available to the public.
Providing more resources and giving incentives have helped LGUS perform better, Panadero said. “The way to move forward now is to continuously exchange ideas and find out how we can best improve what we have.”
Panadero said dialogues are essential to achieving good governance. He appealed to the audience, especially the millennials, to engage with their local governments.
“Kailangan sumama ang mga kabataan sa mga usaping nakakaapekto sa kanilang kinabukasan. Kailangang sumama, makilahok, at makialam na ngayon (The youth needs to be involved in discussions that will shape their future. Now is the time to engage),” he said.