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.

Philippine Institute of Environmental Planners (PIEP) Supports the Achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by Promoting Good Governance through Governance Hubs in Provincial Road Projects

Philippine Institute of Environmental Planners (PIEP) Supports the Achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by Promoting Good Governance through Governance Hubs in Provincial Road Projects

EnP. Ermin Lucino, MPM, AICP, PMP®

“ROADS” literally and figuratively pave the way for development. It both serves as a link of the people to basic services and foundation and catalyst for economic development. It means that inadequate and dilapidated roads hinders the people’s access to basic services and economic development and opportunities.

“Paving the Roads to Sustainable Development Goals through Good Governance (Roads2SDGs)” is a national governance reform program in local roads management (LRM) and public financial management (PFM) targeting different provinces in the country. Roads2SDGs is an initiative of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG). DILG together with the Department of Budget and Management oversee the Conditional Matching Grant to Provinces (CMGP) project. It aims to improve the quality of the provincial local road network across the country by matching the fund from the national government with good governance practices at the provincial level.

The construction and rehabilitation of roads is aligned with the SDGs. The Philippines is one of the signatories committed to the achievement of these goals.

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity. The goals are interconnected and interdependent. It promotes partnership and pragmatism in making the right choices now to improve life in a sustainable manner. The SDGs provide clear guidelines and targets. It is an inclusive agenda.

Improving access and socio-economic development through construction and rehabilitation of roads supports the following SDGs:

SDGs Contribution of Roads to SDG
SDG 1 No Poverty Connecting communities to basic services and economic opportunities
SDG 2 Zero Hunger Enhancing food security by improving business of markets and profit and productivity of farms
SDG 3 Good Health and Well Being Connecting communities to health services and in turn health services to medicinal warehouses / suppliers
SDG 4 Quality Education Increasing safe access to educational institutions and opportunity for the youth and adults to develop new skills
SDG Gender Equality Ensuring gender responsive roads such as safe lighted pedestrian walkways
SDG 8 Decent Work and Economic Growth Increasing employment and economic access for all including the youth and persons with disability
SDG 9 Industry Innovation and Infrastructure Ensuring that the people living in rural areas live within 2 km of an all-season road. Promoting innovative road design.
SDG 13 Climate Action Ensuring resilient designed roads that will better withstand the effects of climate change
SDG 16 Peace, Justice & Strong Institutions Mitigating corruption, increasing transparency and ensuring responsive institutions through citizen participation
SDG 17 Partnership for the Goals Building multi-stakeholder partnerships for effective implementation and maintenance of roads

Blog 1

To get funding from the Conditional Matching Grant to the Province (CMGP), provincial governments are required to formulate and submit a Provincial Governance Reform Roadmap (PGRR) covering the year 2017-2022. The PGRR illustrates the performance targets for each reform area and the strategies to achieve and sustain these agendas. There are seven (7) Reform Areas in the PGRR. Four (4) reform areas are under Local Road Management (Local Road Information Management, Local Road Network Development, Local Road Construction and Maintenance, and Local Road Asset Management) while three (3) reform areas are under Public Financial Management (Internal Audit; Budgeting, Revenue Generation and Expenditure Management; and Procurement).

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is the United Nation’s global development network. It advocates for change and connects countries to knowledge, experience and resources to help people build a better life for themselves. UNDP help achieve the eradication of poverty, and the reduction of inequalities and exclusion. They help (developing) countries to develop policies, leadership skills, partnering abilities, institutional capabilities and build resilience in order to sustain development results. UNDP Philippines partnered with DILG in the implementation of the ROADS2SDG Program.

Blog 2

The ROADS2SDGs have four major target outputs. These are formulation of quality assurance manual for roads and technical audit tools, governance reforms deliverables by the formulation of guidelines for provincial assessment and PGRR formulation, mentoring/coaching (developing local capacities) in local road management and public financial management, and by promoting citizen participation in road governance.

The G-HUBS (Holistic Undertaking Bridging Solutions for Governance) also known as Governance Hub was initiated by DILG and UNDP to assist in the implementation of the ROADS2SDGs program. The G-HUB is a regional organization that stemmed from a Memorandum of Understanding among the different private and state universities and colleges, Philippine Institute of Environmental Planners (PIEP), non-government organizations (NGOs) and people’s organizations (POs).

The role of G-HUBS in the ROADS2SDG program includes provincial assessment (conduct of courtesy calls, co-facilitation of provincial assessment and promotion of citizen participation), PGRR formulation workshop (co-facilitation of the workshop and promotion of citizen participation), follow-up coaching and mentoring (weaving through the SDGs in the PGRR), finalization of the PGRR until SP adoption (coach CSO participants to lobby adoption of PGRR), PGRR Implementation (organize / mobilize citizens’ monitors and advocate for the institutionalization of citizen-led monitoring), and PGRR Monitoring (advocate for the institutionalization of citizen-led monitoring). The G-HUBs were allocated a modest amount from UNDP to be used in their operation and delivery of outputs.

I belong to the Cavite-Laguna-Batangas-Rizal-Quezon (CALABARZON) G-HUB. Our convenor is from the Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement (PRRM), an international NGO. Members of our G-HUB are representatives from Cavite Stare University (CvSU), Dela Salle University – Dasmarinas (DLSUD), through the Lasalian Community Development Center (LCDC), the Philippine Institute of Environmental Planners (PIEP) through its Laguna and Quezon Chapters and the Pinalakas na Ugnayan ng Maliliit na Mangingisda ng Luzon, Mindanao at Visayas (PUMALU-MV). I represent the PIEP Laguna Chapter.

The role of the G-HUB in the ROADS2SDGs program is only until the end of 2019. The CALABARZON G-HUB already conducted courtesy calls to different provinces with regards to the PGRR. There are different levels of awareness among the provinces with regards to SDGs. The G-HUBS are now starting to become resource persons in terms of SDG awareness and localization. These proves the interdependency of the 17 SDGs. It is difficult to specifically focus on roads alone without discussing the other aspects of SDGs not directly related to roads. It is also important to aggressively campaign and promote SDGs in all sectors (private, government, and NGOs/POs). As a matter of fact, the CALABARZON G-HUB is being tapped as resource persons by a province in their activity on Planning and SDG Localization.

G-HUBS role beyond ROADS2SDGs is taking shape as the program is being implemented. It serves as an important stakeholder in promoting good governance and mainstreaming/localizing SDGs at a regional level. Its diverse membership gives it both academic and professional expertise (private/SUCs and PIEP) and relevant advocacies (NGOs/POs). It has the potential to serve as the important third actor (aside from the state and the private sector) that will initiate real change in our country.

Blog 3

Note: Most of the explanations provided are part of the different slides presented during the Preparation of Provincial Governance Reforms Roadmap (PGRR) and Training of Trainers on September 24-26, 2018 in Tagaytay City and CALABARZON G-HUB SDG Localization Training and Meeting on May 22-23, 2019 in Silang, Cavite.

Other information are sourced from the following sites:

https://assistasia.org/news/assist-creative-lab-embarks-on-the-roads2sdgs/

http://www.ph.undp.org/content/philippines/en/home/sustainable-development-goals.html

https://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/about-us.html