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.

What it meant to be a Local Government Planner

What it meant to be a Local Government Planner

Last week, the City Youth and Development Office assigned Youth Representatives to shadow and learn from city elected officials and city department heads for a whole week. Unfortunately, last week was a hectic week for me wherein more than the normal number of urgent projects are ongoing. I managed to orient the youth assigned to be the young City Planning Development Coordinator (CPDC) but failed to ask for his feedback on what he learned from our office. This specific blog is for the non-planners who want to know more about local planning in the Philippines.

A City Planning and Development Coordinator (CPDC) is the chief or head planner in a city in the Philippines. Its counterpart is the City Plannning Director in the United States and Town Planner in the European Union.

A city is part of a group called the Local Government Units (LGUs) which are government organizations below the national or central government. The LGUs govern and provide certain basic services to its territory. There are several levels of LGUs. From highest to lowest: autonomous administrative regions, provinces, cities, municipalities, and the village level (barangays). There are 3 basic level of LGU head planners: provincial planning and development coordinator, CPDC, and municipal planning and development coordinator. The appointment of a planning and development coordinator is mandatory for provincial, city and municipal governments.

The operational guidebook (law) for LGUs is the Local Goverment Code of 1991 or Republic Act 7160.

To learn about more about RA 7160 click https://www.lawphil.net/statutes/repacts/ra1991/ra_7160_1991.html

In 1991, RA 7160 defined the qualification of a local planning and development coordinator in Section 476a as follows:

• a citizen of the Philippines

• a resident of the local government unit concerned

• of good moral character

• a holder of a college degree preferably in urban planning, development studies, economics, public administration, or any related course from a recognized college or university

• first grade civil service eligible or its equivalent

• experience in development planning or in any related field for at least five (5) years in the case of the provincial or city planning and development coordinator, and three (3) years in the case of the municipal planning and development coordinator

In 2013, Republic Act 10587 or the Environmental Planning Act of 2013 was enacted. This changed (added) the existing qualifications of an LGU planner – specifically the need for an Environmental Planning Board Certificate.

To learn more about RA 10587 click https://lawphil.net/statutes/repacts/ra2013/ra_10587_2013.html

In 2017, the Civil Service Commission (CSC) through CSC Memorandum Circular No. 10 series of 2017 released an Amendment to the (Quality Standards) QS of the Head Local Planning and Development Coordinator Positions in the Local Government Units. In 2018, the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) released a memo on the Reiteration of Civil Service Commission Memorandum Circular No. 10 series of 2017 compliance with Republic Act No. 10587 (Environmental Planning Act of 2013). This means that starting 2017 all new appointed planning and development coordinators (aside from the RA 7160 requirements) should be a licensed environmental planner.

To learn more about CSC MC 10, s. 2017 click the link: http://www.csc.gov.ph › MC2017PDF

To learn more about the DILG memo click the link: https://dilg.gov.ph/issuances/mc/Reiteration-of-Civil-Service-Commission-Memorandum-Circular-No-2017-10-in-compliance-with-Republic-Act-No-10587-Environmental-Planning-Act-of-2013/2679

What is the job of a local planning amd development coordinator? RA 7160 Sec. 476 enumerate the duties of a local planner.

First is to formulate integrated economic, social, physical, and other development plans and policies for consideration of the local government development council.

Integration means unity and alignment of sectoral plans and policies. There are 5 sectors considered in the LGUs. These are the social, economic, enviroment, infrastructure, and institutional. There are also subsectors per sector. For example in the social sector the subsectors are education, health, social welfare, protective services, parks and recreation and disaster preparedness and reduction, among others.

The local government development council (LDC) is separate from the local elected council. Sectoral plans originate from and approved by local development council. The members of the LDC are the heads of the component LGUs (provinces – all mayors in the provinces; cities/municipalities – all barangay chairmen in its territory), representatives of the district (congressman), and civil society organizations (which comprise 25% of the membership). The LDC approved plans is presented to the local elected council for adoption and approval.

The role of the planner is more of a facilitator ensuring the planning process is observed and there is participation in the formuation of the plan.

Second is to conduct continuing studies, researches, and training programs necessary to evolve plans and programs for implementation.

At present our city is planning and studying the establishment of a City College and formulation of a Transport Plan and Traffic Code. The study of the city college will be conducted by the city while the formulation of a Transport Plan and Traffic Code will be outsourced to planners specializing in transport management.

Third is to integrate and coordinate all sectoral plans and studies undertaken by the different functional groups or agencies.

There are several plans and studies at different levels that need to be integrated at the local level. Examples are the Sustainable Development Goals at the global level, Philippine Development Plan and Ambisyon Natin 2040 at the national level, plans of national (sectoral) government agencies, local plans of the higher level LGU (Province) and local plans of component/lower level LGUs (Barangays). The role of the planner is to make sure that their plan is aligned to other major plans.

Fourth is to monitor and evaluate the implementation of the different development programs, projects, and activities in the local government unit concerned in accordance with the approved development plan.

The LGU allocates a certain percentage of its annual budget to its annual Development Fund. These are capital outlay projects (mostly infrastructure) that should be implemented in a given year. The role of the planner is to monitor and evaluate the implementation of these projects.

Fifth is to prepare comprehensive plans and other development planning documents for the consideration of the local development council.

There are two major plans in any LGU. These are the Comprehensive Development Plan (CDP) and the Comprehensive Land Use Plan (CLUP).

The CDP is an integrated sectoral plan with a planning period of 3 to 4 years. The CDP has a Local Development Investment Program/Plan where projects are sourced out amd budgeted. The CLUP is a long-term land use plan with a planning period of 9 years. The CLUP is implemented through a Zoning Ordinance. The Zoning Ordinance guides the development of different land areas in the LGU.

The role of the planner is to ensure that the LGU has these two plans. The planner should also make sure that the plans are aligned with other plans and that utmost stakeholder participation is observed in the formulation of the plans.

Sixth is to analyze the income and expenditure patterns, and formulate and recommend fiscal plans and policies for consideration of the finance committee of the local government unit.

The Local Finance Committee is composed of the local planning and development coordinator, local treasurer, and local budger officer. The local finance committee provides advice to elected officials on the financial status of the LGU.

The planner together with the local development council (LDC) formulates and approve the annual investment plan (AIP). The AIP is the basis of the Annual Budget. Only programs, projects and activities included in the AIP are allowed to have an allocated budget to be implemented.

Seventh is to promote people participation in development planning within the local government unit concerned.

The local development council has 25% membership from non-goverment / civil society organizations. This ensures that stakeholders other than government actors are included in the development of local plans.

The plans that our office facilitated recently are the eco-tourism people’s park conceptual plan and the bikelane and pedestrian conceptual plan. Both underwent a series of public consultations with stakeholders.

Eight is to exercise supervision and control over the secretariat of the local development council.

The Office of the local planner provides the administrative work of the council. Secretariat functions include coodination with all members, setting of agenda, formulation of minutes and resolutions, etc.

Last but not the least is to exercise such other powers and perform such other functions and duties as may be prescribed by law or ordinance.

An idea or a policy in its early stage is usually assigned to the planner for his/her study. The mode of assigning this task can be through verbal request, a memorandum from a national government agency, an executive order, or a council resolution.

The tasks can be so diverse such as preparing the city for an audit (seal of good local governance), ISO certification, nomination of a city (Phillipine Business-Friendliness entry), transfer of a public elementary school to a new site, survey of new right-of-way for new roads, site planning, local speeches, etc.

The local planner should always be ready. The Office of the local planning and develoment coordinator should be composed of teams that are fast learner, dedicated, resilient, and thrive on a fast paced environment.

Being a local planner is both daunting and rewarding. Daunting because of the diverse roles and responsibilities. Rewarding because the planner has the opportunity to personally see and feel the output and outcome of their local plans.

Are you ready to be a local planner?

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®