BUTUAN CITY -- Civil society organizations (CSOs) discussed their indispensable role in the transition to full devolution following the Mandanas ruling in the Dagyaw 2021: Partisipasyon sa mga CSO sa Debolusyon, Palambuon! held on November 17, 2021 at The Pavilion at Watergate, Butuan City and livestreamed online.
In her message, Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Regional Director Maria Fe D. Jagna said that Dagyaw is the government’s way of telling everyone that it is doing its best to serve the people.
“We remain committed to finding ways to reach every Caraganon and keep you informed and updated with the affairs of government,” she said.
Dagyaw, the Hiligaynon term for “bayanihan”, is one of the government campaigns that serves as a platform for productive, valuable, sincere and visible engagement between the government and the citizens. Through the years, Dagyaw has consistently evolved in terms of topics covered and manner of delivery, adopting whichever is most suitable and appropriate for the time.
Patterned after a town hall forum, representatives from the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), DBM, and CSOs engaged in a comprehensive discourse about the latest updates, on-site experiences, varying perspec
tives, and prospective impacts of the Mandanas ruling in local governance. It was moderated by Alma A. Eleazar, honorary member of the LOGOTRI-Philnet.
DILG Caraga Assistant Regional Director Donald A. Seronay opened the discussion by highlighting the legal obligations of the government to engage with CSOs.
“The 1987 Philippine Constitution recognizes the important role of CSOs in nation building and the Local Government Code of 1991 further emphasizes this by mandating LGUs to promote the establishment and operation of CSOs to make them active partners in the pursuit of local autonomy," he said.
Rule XIII, Section 38 of the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of Executive Order No. 138, series of 2021 states that CSOs can be active partners of LGUs in providing feedback on programs, activities, and projects (PAPs) of the government, pushing for various advocacies and initiatives, formulating plans, policies, and issuances, and implementing capacity development programs and other activities.
They are also encouraged to participate in the preparation, implementation, and monitoring of the Devolution Transition Plans (DTPs) of national government agencies and local government units through consultations and public dialogues.
In her sharing, Sibog Katawhan Alang Sa Paglambo (SIKAP), Inc. Executive Director Christine H. Ampon talked about how they brought health-related PAPs into focus in the preparation of the DTP of the Province of Agusan del Sur as it is one of their organization’s primary advocacies.
“We repeatedly impressed the importance of data utilization in the planning process, especially in health-related initiatives. We made sure that the LGU would invest on health programs especially with our experience in the pandemic,” she said
Meanwhile, Butuan City Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Cristina Hemady R. Arcillas encouraged fellow CSOs to proactively engage in dialogue with LGUs to make the partnership work.
“During the pandemic, the Chamber was always there to make the members understand why (business establishments) have to close. That’s why it’s important to engage with the government to have firsthand access to information as to why certain economic decisions had to be made,” she said.
Similarly, Father Saturnino Urios University Social Science Division Head Belinda Ato-Candelario also expressed the Local Research Institutes (LRIs) are allies of the LGUs and CSOs.
“CSOs make people-centered development possible. Hence, it’s important to employ the sentiments of CSOs in the planning process. From here, LRIs can then provide technical assistance in making this methodology possible, particularly in helping LGUs how to prioritize their PAPs relative to the CSO’s sentiments,” she said.
When asked about the possible impacts of the ruling to civil societies, Regional Federation of CSOs President Victor Emmanuel A. Ozarraga sees it as an opportunity for better participatory governance.
“The Mandanas ruling closes the gap between information and decision. It provides various opportunities for collaboration. So, I believe that the Mandanas ruling will ignite the interest of CSOs to actively take part in local governance,” he said.
It is expected that the total shares of the LGUs from the national taxes will significantlyincrease starting Fiscal Year 2022 in line with the implementation of the Mandanas ruling. According to EO 138, the substantial increase in the shares of the LGUs from the national taxes will empower the LGUs in providing basic services and facilities to their constituents, and aid them in the effective discharge of other duties and functions devolved to them under Section 17 of RA No. 7160.
This year’s Dagyaw, which started in 2019, is the third to be conducted in Caraga region. It is the first to be conducted in a hybrid manner (face-to-face activity and online livestreaming) after health protocols in Butuan City have been relaxed. In the bid to make the activity more inclusive, a Filipino Sign Language interpreter, Ma. Euville V. Mejias from the Department of Education, interpreted the proceedings.
The activity was also done in partnership with the Philippine Information Agency Caraga. The agency was responsible in livestreaming the activity in various social media platforms. (Estela Marie M. Vallespin/DILG-Caraga/PIA-Caraga)