Local Citizens and Non-Citizens in the Middle of the COVID 19 Pandemic

Everything stood still during the Pandemic Lockdown. Schools, restaurants, businesses and public transportation, among others, stopped or operated in a limited capacity. Most of the people waited for the government to provide support in terms of financial assistance and food packages. The situation revealed two types of inhabitants (Beneficiaries) living in local governments (communities): the local non-citizens and the citizens.

First let us define what are citizens. Citizens are those who are living or resides in the community that are registered voters and/or included in the masterlist (whether as senior citizen, person with disability, solo parent, etc.) of the local government. Non-citizens are those living in the community who are not registered voters and does not directly deal with the local government. Usually these are the transient workers, company workers, stranded people, and those who by choice doesn’t want to engage or be part of the community.

During the pandemic (or any other disasters), the local government procures and prepares supplies for distribution and formulate programs to support its people. The local government uses the masterlist in identifying the number of food packages or the budget to prepare for the relief operation. However, during the pandemic, many inhabitants took to social media their cries of being excluded from the support. Sometimes, they air their complaints even before the actual distribution of support to the point of accusing local leaders of politicking, corruption, and discrimination.

On the government side, they cannot just allocate resources not based on actual data while on the side of the non-citizens, they are also part of the community contributing to its economy and development. Both sides have strong points. I do not want to decide which is the right argument. I only hope that this incident brought learnings on both sides. This way we can prevent this from happening again when disasters occur (and disasters will definitely occur whether we like or not).

If a person is a non-citizen by choice, he/she should be ready if he/she is not included in the masterlist of beneficiaries. However, being a non-citizen does not exempt him/her from government services such as peace and order, health, environmental programs, etc. Other non-citizens can easily be included in the local government masterlist if they just register in the local Commission on Election (COMELEC) Offices available in all local governments. This is a strong document that you are part of the community. However, take note that if a person fails to vote two consecutive times, he/she will be written off from the COMELEC masterlist. Another way is to get identification card from the local government Social Welfare and Development Office if you are a senior citizen, person with disability, solo parent, etc. There are many ways to become a citizen of the community which requires very minimal effort.

Local Government is tasked to promote the general welfare of its inhabitants (whether citizens or non-citizens). Thus, local governments formulate plans, programs, and activities in promoting what is best to the community. Masterlists are outdated the very time it is submitted and adopted. Everyday a person is being born (die) or transfer to and from the community which is not captured real-time in the masterlist. Local government should be adept in developing projections or actually capturing the number of its inhabitants on a regular basis. The Philippines has a lower level of local government below the city/municipal level. This is the Barangay (Village) local government unit. The duties of its barangay secretary are to keep an updated record of all inhabitants of the barangay containing the following items of information: name, address, place and date of birth, sex, civil status, citizenship, occupation, and such other items of information as may be prescribed by law or ordinance; and to submit a report on the actual number of barangay residents as often as may be required by the sangguniang barangay. Hence, it is the duty of the local government to have an updated record or masterlist. They should also promote the COMELEC registration of the inhabitants by making it accessible and convenient to the (qualified) people.

The Pandemic revealed this simple issue that created a big impact during the incident. I feel that it is both the duty of the inhabitants and the government to reach out to each other. The inhabitants to fulfill its moral duty of registering and voting and the local government to carry out its mandate, improve planning tools, and reach out/encourage its inhabitants to participate in local activities and governance.

I hope we learned from this experience and I hope that as a community, we are all prepared and focused on our next/future challenges.

SMART City in the Philippines?

What is a SMART City? When can you say that your city or community is SMART? In most developed countries, the direction is towards the development of SMART Cities. How about in developing countries? Is there such a thing as a SMART City?

The City of Santa Rosa in the Philippines has been positioning itself as a SMART City as early as 2014 through the leadership of Mayor Arlene Arcillas. Why is it important to be branded as a Smart City? Does it really make a difference?

The City of Santa Rosa is one of the industrialized cities outside Metro Manila. It is known as the “Automotive Capital of the Philippines” since almost all multinational major car manufacturing companies decided to establish in the city. It is also known as the “Next Wave City in Information, Communication, and Technology” having identified as an IT-BPO hub in the region by the national government. The City is also a tourist destination, Enchanted Kingdom (it is like Disneyland of the Philippines) is also in Santa Rosa. Does having all of these features in a city makes it Smart? Or there is more?

I was very fortunate to represent our Mayor as one of the panelists in the 2019 Regional Science and Technology Week (RSTW) and Regional Invention Contest and Exhibits (RICE) on September 26, 2019. The theme of the activity was “Science for the People: Enabling Technologies for Sustainable Development”. The session was Technology Talks about SMART Governance in SMART Cities. Even though I was one of the panelists, I surely learned a lot about what a SMART city is which I will share below.

Click to know more about 2019 RSTW: http://region4a.dost.gov.ph/

The session was moderated by the CALABARZON Regional Director Dr. Alexander Madrigal. The first speaker was Pres. Colin Cristie. He is the President of the Analytics Association of the Philippines (APP). His topic is about Framework for SMART Cities. He discussed about multiplied innovation wherein one innovation leads to another, the importance of data and correctly using these data, and building an analytics ecosystem in the country.

Click to know more about Analytics Association of the Philippines: https://aap.ph/

I am not an Information and Technology (IT) person, but as a Planner, I also believe in the importance of data as inputs to planning and implementing programs and projects. I thought about a program wherein local government units (provinces, cities and municipalities) collect data from census/survey. This is the Community Based Management System (CBMS). CBMS is a household survey that identifies the following indicators: health, nutrition, housing, water sanitation and access to safe water supply, education, employment and peace and order.

Click to know more about CBMS: https://cbms.dilg.gov.ph/

The conduct of the CBMS is costly and tedious. However, the importance of having these data is significant that the national government even enacted Republic Act 11315 also known as the CBMS Act to institutionalize data gathering to all LGUs in the country. The CBMS Act was approved on February 2019.

Click to know more about RA 11315 / CBMS Act: https://www.officialgazette.gov.ph/2019/04/17/republic-act-no-11315/

This mean SMART Cities use data in their decision making.

The second speaker was Mr. Alejandro P. Melchor III. He is the Chair of Smart Cities Committee of APP. His topic is about the Challenges and Opportunities in Developing Smart Cities. He talked about the emerging potential of the Philippines as the best country in terms of putting investments. He discussed how developed countries centered its national programs in developing SMART cities. He highlighted that when a city brand itself as a SMART city, development follows such as inprovement in its real estate market. Global institutions also pour out its support and resource to SMART Cities. He also presented the ASEAN SMART Cities Network wherein many cities in other countries are included in the network and only 3 cities (Manila, Cebu, and Davao) in the Philippines are included.

Click to know more about ASEAN SMART Cities Network: https://asean.org/asean/asean-smart-cities-network/

My take on Mr. Melchor’s presentation is that pursuing to be called/recognized as SMART City is a sound strategy in developing an LGU. Opportunities follow a SMART City. People benefits in such a city. Our Mayor is right all along to pursue a SMART City strategy. The country should at least consider this strategy. It also makes sense to start with cities because it is projected that by 2050 most of the people (68%) will be living in cities/urban areas. Let’s start with cities but let us not forget the municipalities/towns and other LGUs.

Click to know more about global population projection: https://www.un.org/development/desa/en/news/population/2018-revision-of-world-urbanization-prospects.html

The third speaker was Dr. Antonio M. Del Carmen. He is a Board Member of the National ICT Confederation of the Philippines (NICP) and president of Laguna Industry Network for Knowledge, Innovation and Technology (LINK IT). His topic is NICP’s Role in Developing Smart Cities. Dr. Del Carmen talked about the importance of developing a strong talent pool that can match the needs of the IT industry, specifically the IT-BPO industry. He introduced the importance of collaboration among Academe, Government and Industry. He also emphasized the willingness of NICP to help other cities and municipalities transform into a SMART city/municipalities.

My take from Dr. Del Carmen’s presentation is that SMART Cities are composed of skilled workforce. Developing your people will make you a SMART City. I also learned that the local government should not take all the burden in its objective of becoming Smart. Local Government should partner with the academe and industry to achieve this objective.

Click to know more about NICP: https://www.nicp.org.ph/about-us

The fourth speaker was Mr. Tristan M. Ocampo. He is the Technical and Design Promotion Manager of ABB Inc. His topic is Intelligent Technologies for SMART Cities: Building Blocks for Sustainability. Mr Ocampo talked about Intelligent Technologies, self-sustaining/sustainable cities, general characteristics and components of a SMART City, among others. He introduced their product ABB Ability. It helps by supporting an entire project ecosystem. He concluded his presentation by citing examples of cities and projects wherein ABB services improved/made the project SMART.

What I like about Mr. Ocampo’s talk is that he emphasized that programs and projects of a SMART City is defined by the needs and expectation of its constituents. It means that becoming a SMART City is contextual. Any city/town can vie to become a SMART City/Town. He also talked about sustainable city. For me, a sustainable city is economic, social, and environmental development.

Click to know more about ABB Inc: https://new.abb.com/ph

The fifth speaker was Mr. Joona Selin. He is the Executive Director NordCham Philippines. Mr. Selin discussed the possible and important role of NordCham by providing support to LGUs in its journey to become a SMART City. Cities in the Philippines can learn from other cities in their member countries on their experience of becoming a SMART city.

Click to know more about NordCham Philippines: http://nordcham.com.ph/about-us/

SMART City is relatively new in the country. The City of Santa Rosa and other cities will benefit from the lessons and experiences of other cities. However, Philippine cities should only adopt / copy principles suited to its local situation/context.

I was the sixth speaker. I talked about the role of the city in improving the quality of life of its constituents by providing efficient and effective programs. I presented Santa Rosa as the number 1 in local revenue collection in CALABARZON and how these collections fund the delivery of services. I mentioned also the presence of a rich talent pool and big universities that started to locate in the city. I also discussed Santa Rosa as a one of the 100 Super Cities in the world as identified by Tholons International in terms of digital services and outsourcing.

The seventh and last speaker was EnP. Angelica Francisco of the Development Academy (DAP) of the Philippines. Enp. Francisco talked about ISO 37106:2018 which provides guidance on establishing SMART city operating models for sustainable communities. She also discussed how is studying a SMART city template applicable to Philippine context.

To know more about ISO 37106:2018: https://www.iso.org/standard/62065.html

To summarize the points I learned from all the speakers, I will try to define what is a SMART City and why is it important.

A SMART City is the use of data in understanding the needs and expectations of constituents and subsequently providing programs that will improve the their quality of life. A SMART city is self-sustaining and promotes sustainable development. It is the use of technology in providing effective and efficient services. It is people development. It varies based on local context. To become a SMART City, the City must be certified in ISO 37106:2018 or the country’s SMART City agency. The positive benefits of pursuing to be a SMART city outweighs the challenges/issues that it may incur.

Let us promote the Development of SMART Cities/Communities. Thank you Department of Science and Technology (DOST) for guiding LGUs in becoming SMART Cities/Communities.

#DOSTCALABARZON

#ScienceForThePeople
#WeInnovateWeMakeADifference
#RegionalScienceAndTechnologyWeek
#RegionalInventionContestandExhibits
#RSTW2019
#RICE2019
#SmartCity
#CityofSantaRosa

How to Formulate an Executive Legislative Agenda (ELA)

Are you a new Provincial / City / Municipal Planning and Development Coordinator (Head Planner) or perhaps a seasoned planner who is tasked by your local executive (Governor or Mayor) to facilitate the formulation of your Local Government Unit’s (LGU) Executive Legislative Agenda (ELA)? Are you a department head or a non-government stakeholder involved in the formulation of this very important document? Let me try to explain what an ELA is and more importantly how we formulate the said document.

I was promoted to head city planner on 2014. A local election was held on May 2016. On July/August 2016, a DILG memo was released stating that I need to assist the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) in the formulation of our City ELA. It was my first time to facilitate the formulation of the ELA. There was no guide accompanying the memo. Unlike the Comprehensive Development Plan (CDP) which has a DILG Guidebook and the Comprehensive Land Use Plan which has the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB) guidebook to follow, the formulation of the ELA does not have a guidebook.

It is again an ELA formulation season. DILG again sent out a memo (DILG Memorandum Circular 2019-114) stating what to do, specific timeline, and responsible officer (https://dilg.gov.ph/issuances/mc/Clarificatory-Guidelines-on-the-Formulation-of-the-Executive-Legislative-Agenda-ELA-/3012). The Memo stated the use of the CDP guidelines, however, the how-to formulate the ELA exclusively was not included in the memo.

My immediate response is to look for a guidebook on ELA formulation. Fortunately I found the following guidebooks: ”A Manual – How to Formulate an Executive and Legislative Agenda for Local Governance and Development” and “A Facilitator’s Guide – How to Formulate an Executive and Legislative Agenda for Local Governance and Development” published by Local Government Academy (LGA) and Philippines-Canada Local Government Support Program (LGSP). A newer version is The “LGU Capacity Assessment and CapDev Agenda Formulation Toolkit – A Guide to the new SCALOG and CapDev Agenda Processes and Tools Second Edition” also by Local Government Academy. The guidebooks may be downloaded online.

An ELA is a term-based (3-year) plan or document derived from the Comprehensive Development Plan (CDP) which contains the major development thrusts and priorities of both the executive and the legislative branches for the three year term of office. The ELA is mutually developed and agreed upon by the executive and legislative departments of the LGU in consultation with the various stakeholders. This is the first proof that the executive and legislative agree on their programs, projects, and activities of the LGU. If things go awry between the two (politically or otherwise), the planner should remind both that in the start of their term they agreed (ELA!) on the things they wanted to do for the betterment of their LGU.

I would like to share what I did in my city. It was not perfect and actually it is still a work in progress. I just hope that other planners would not go through my experience in 2016 where I desperately looked for the actual steps in ELA formulation.

I started the ELA process early (mid-June) by distributing a form to all department and unit heads. The objective was to prepare/condition the departments/units in identifying issues, goals and objectives, programs and projects, year of implementation, source of funding, indicative cost, need for legislative support, need for human resource support, and need for infrastructure support.

ELA Form

There was a turnover or leadership on July 1, 2019. In mid-July, together with our DILG City Local Government Operation Officer, we conducted a general briefing/orientation to stakeholders specifically department heads, unit heads, and elected officials. Below are the slides (based on the stated references) I used in the orientation:

ELA Orientation

The departments/units were group into sectors and its corresponding subsectors. The said groups underwent detailed briefing on the ELA process, their outputs and deliverables, and the timeframe. Each group assigned a leader, presenter, secretariat and documenter among themselves. After the initial briefing, they were expected to conduct separate meetings to finish their required outputs. Below is the hand-out discussed during the sectoral briefing:

ELA Sectoral Briefing

The ELA process may be tedious and time consuming. However, giving our stakeholders the chance to make their plan, collaborate with each other and work as a team may prove to be beneficial in the long run. For one, ownership of the ELA does not only belong to the elected officials but also to the people delivering the actual projects. This makes the projects in the ELA easily implementable. Second, teamwork and camaraderie is developed during discussion. This will make coordination better during project implementation. Third, the monitoring of the projects will be easier given the involvement and clear expectations of the agencies. Lastly, all sectors were given due importance in the formulation of the ELA making it holistic and comprehensive. Involvement of stakeholders and public consultation also make the ELA participative and inclusive.

My intention in writing this essay is to help specifically my fellow local planners and the people involved in the ELA formulation in general.

– EnP. Ermin V. Lucino, MPM, AICP, PMP®