Promoting Good Governance - PDI

BICOLANOS believe that good governance can help fight poverty, says the 2006 poverty mapping results of the BCDI.

With only seven months before electing new leaders, they are learning to ask for more and what is due them from local governments.

In Catanduanes, the local government unit is gradually putting value in the participation and recommendation of civil society in formulating the province’s development plan.

“There are a lot of good things civil society participation can do to promote transparency,” says Antonio Asuncion, in-charge of a good governance project of the Diocese of Virac Social Action Foundation Inc. (DVSAFI).

Convenio project

This project is part of the Convenio Project, under which the Bicol Agenda is a main feature.

Convenio is a four-year project of BCDI and social action centers in the region and other social development organizations. It seeks to address and reduce poverty through good governance, access to quality health care and basic health services, economic capacities and environmental sustainability. Convenio gets support from the Spanish NGO Manos Unidas and the Agencia Española de Cooperacion Internacional para el Desarrollo.

Health, livelihood

To date, DVSAFI is pushing for the adoption of any of its projects on good governance, health, livelihood, entrepreneurship and rehabilitation for typhoon victims to gain policy support from the provincial government.

“Some parts of the province’s 20-percent development fund could be channeled to these projects which help address poverty issues,” says DVSAFI director Fr. Laudemer Jose Gapaz.

DVSAFI’s good governance project encourages civil society to participate in barangay administration structures such as special bodies and in the formulation and enforcement of laws and ordinances that respond to the needs of residents.

In Albay, Social Action Center-Legazpi has led since 1995 the People’s Participation for Local Governance to establish a system of local governance made more meaningful through wider public participation.

The initiative includes public awareness of the people’s needs to participate in local governance and monitor performance of their elected officials; training for government workers and local executives on how to manage their barangays and municipalities; and recently, enhancing the capacity of civil society to engage local government units on finance, development planning and poverty alleviation as well as to push for fair elections.

Multisectoral cooperation

The initiative led to multisectoral cooperation to address child abuse in the city. In 2002, it helped establish a network of NGOs and peoples’ organizations in Albay that would work with government for poverty reduction and social development.

In Albay, civil society is helping push local leaders to focus on disaster preparedness because of the province’s being prone to disasters. The local government now gives disaster management training to both general public and disaster management teams.

But local governments still need to harmonize their policies and interests, especially when dealing with foreign investors using the region’s resources.

Education campaign

A case in point is the controversial open-pit mining in Rapu-Rapu, Albay. In 2008, the province was heavily criticized for failing to prevent fish kills in Albay Gulf due to its weak monitoring of the waste disposal system of the Australian-owned Lafayette Mining.

The poverty mapping survey recommended that civil society be strengthened to aggressively put forward a more democratic-development agenda for the region. It also raised the need for intensive information and education campaigns to promote what people really need – proper sanitation and nutrition, responsible parenthood, sustainable farming practices and the benefits of community-based ecotourism.

“People should be made aware that governance is not the responsibility of the public officials alone,” says Father Ramoncito Segubiense, Social Action Center-Legazpi executive director. Fr. Jose Victor E. Lobrigo

Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 01:31:00 09/13/2009

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