Legazpi City, June 12, 2019 – members of the Local Government Development Foundation including Executive Director Prof. Edmund Tayao, and LOGODEF Board member and ConCom member Atty. Susan Ordinario attended a meeting with the convenors of the DILG and the Federalismo Alyansa ng Bicol to strategize on the next steps for federalism in the Bicol region. Also among the participants of the meeting are Sec. Dante Jimenez of the Presidential Anti Corruption Commission, Department of Tourism Bicol Region Director Benjie Santiago, former Philippine National Construction Commission President Mario Espinosa, Mr. Toy Reynoso Consumer’s Rights Watch (CRoW) Bicol, Atty. Von Naval Lee from the Office of the President Assistant for Bicol Affairs (OPABA), and Mr. Tommy Lee of Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC).
The discussion began with a review of the rationale and history of the federalism initiative in Bicol. Later on, participants were given an update on the actions taken by the DILG to promote the federalism initiative of the President. The DILG presented their workplan for 2019. According to their workplan, the following activities should take place:
(1)Consultation and coordination meeting with CSO partners will happen within the first week of July. (2) Accreditation of CSO partners [3-5 per province] will start at the third quarter.
(3) Federalism lectures with the newly elected officials (Governors and Mayors), the lectures with the barangay officials [all Punong Barangays per province], (4) federalism lecture in university campuses, (5) and federalism info lecture with NGAs and institutional partners, will start at the fourth quarter .
(6) The Provincial Consultative Meetings/Seminars/Roadshows on Federalism, (7) information and massive advocacy campaign in selected barangays, and the (8) dissemination of IEC materials will run through the third up to the fourth quarter.
The DILG officials present in the meeting assured that the DILG is currently supporting the Bayanihan draft alone as instructed by Sec. Ano. The DILG has also reminded the participants on the Accreditation Process of CSOs as Federalism Advocacy Partners (under Memorandum Circular No 2018-79). DILG noted the importance of ensuring the legitimacy and competency of the organizations doing the campaign. It is emphasized that CSOs who wish to partner with the DILG in promoting federalism should be registered with the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) to be able to carry out the activities involving federalism.
In response to these discussions, Atty. Susan Ordinario made the suggestion that the step where the DILG should do capacity building with the focal persons should be the first move. According to Atty. Ordinario, her observation with the last federalism forum is that the people who participated weren’t “sold”. She further suggested that the ConCom members should be present in the training of these focal persons.
Some important questions from the participants were also raised in the discusson:
- How dedicated are the personnel of the DILG? In a particpants’ experience, he saw the DILG personnel leave leaflets and would later claim that they have completed the federalism training which is not true.
- Is the timeline presented by the DILG based on the mandate of the central office?
- Is there an existing fear from the DILG officials about federalism which can explain why they are not actively promoting it?
The answers to these questions were as follows:
- The DILG is aware and is responding to these issues. At the moment, they are mapping out the problems and doing consultations in order to address observations.
- The rationale for the timeline is that the DILG is having budgetary constraints as well as problems due to the lack of partners who can perform the training. In response to this, the DILG is relying on the Speaker’s Bureau Training.
- There is fear from some DILG officials about losing their job. It should be made clear that DILG officials/agents do not have to fear federalism, and in fact, they even have an incentive for it.
Apart from the efforts of the DILG, members of the forum also revealed news of a massive development project in the Bicol region. It is the hope of the participants that this project would be the concrete image to promote development and federalism in the Bicol region.
Meeting concluded at 1:00 pm