‘Robredo’s reforms in office should continue’—DILGBy Jamie Marie Elona
MANILA, Philippines—It is “crucial” that the reforms started by the late Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Jesse Robredo in his office be continued, and his ideals be fought for and protected,” DILG said in a statement Tuesday, following the recovery of Robredo’s body 180 feet deep off Masbate waters where his plane crashed last Saturday.
In a statement, Movement for Good Governance chairperson Solita Monsod was quoted as saying that Robredo has advanced reforms in local government and interior sector that are crucial for the country to meet President Benigno Aquino’s “matuwid na daan (straight path)” program.
Up until the night of Robredo’s departure to Cebu City for two speaking engagements, DILG said Robredo had been pushing the management team to look for more effective ways on how they can gear up reforms in his office.
It said Robredo was particularly focusing on drumming up public support for the Full Disclosure Policy (FDP), an instrument that he hoped would advance transparency and accountability in local governance.
Full Disclosure Policy
Under the FDP, local government units are required to disclose in public places 12 key financial documents that show how their respective funds are being spent. “As of June 2012, 1,697, or 99 percent of LGUs have complied with the policy,” DILG claimed, as validated by the latest Pulse Asia and Social Weather Stations survey.
FDP, the statement said, was also made as among the requirements for LGU’s bidding to be conferred of the Seal of Good Housekeeping (SGH) rewarded annually as recognition for “honesty and excellence in local governance.” As of June this year, 856 LGUs who have qualified for the SGH have been granted P1.1 billion from the Performance Challenge Fund.
“Lagi ko pong sinabi na itinaas na natin ang antas o sukat nang paglilingkod. Hindi na sapat na tayo ay matino lamang. Hindi rin sapat na tayo at mahusay lamang. Hindi lahat ng matino ay mahusay, at lalo namang hindi lahat ng mahusay ay matino. Ang dapat ay matino at mahusay upang karapat dapat tayong pagkatiwalaan ng pera ng bayan (I always say that we’ve raised the level of public service. It’s not enough anymore to say we’re sensible. It’s not enough to say we’re doing well. Because not all who are sensible are doing well and those who are doing well are also sensible. What’s right is to do well and be sensible at the same time in order for us to be worthy of the trust on handling the people’s money),” DILG’s statement said quoting Robredo when he was still living his days as the office’s chief.
Among other policies that Robredo had been working on, DILG said, included his battle against illegal logging and the improvement of disaster risk reduction and mitigation capabilities of local government units across the country.
Last Friday, DILG said the secretary gave instructions that illegal logging be stopped, and those involved be made accountable for their actions.
Zero casualties during disasters
Robredo is also said to have been “tirelessly” improving LGU’s capabilities against disasters. He has introduced the Seal of Disaster Preparedness, another incentive mechanism to help LGUs deal with disasters and calamities. “The important thing here is reducing casualties to zero,” he said.
As of the first semester of this year, 8,504 LGUs already have functional disaster management councils. Exactly 1,539 have command centers and alarm systems. They now have emergency response, rescue, and medical teams, and evacuation centers.
Highly effective and streamlined business process licensing systems
DILG said Robredo being a Mayor of Naga City for 19 years, he was strict about making sure that LGU’s business process licensing system are “streamlined and highly effective.” As a result, DILG said the latest National Competitiveness Survey results showed that 70 percent of businessmen respondents received permits in three days or less.
The Department committed to the Millennium Challenge Corp. to streamline the BPLS of 120 LGUs in four years. As of June 2012, 748 LGUs have already streamlined their BPLS within a two-year period. This has raised revenue collection by as much as 7% in Lapu-Lapu City and 18% in Butuan City.
Enhanced tool that measures performance of LGUs
DILG said combined results from the enhanced Local Governance Performance Management System (LGPMS) tool showed “consistent increase in the number of LGUs with high overall performance ratings.
“From 913 in 2009 to 1,050 in 2010, to 1,261 in 2011,” DILG claimed, adding that Robredo believed that measuring outcomes lead to improvement.
Lower crime rates
In the interior sector, Robredo batted for a vision that every Filipino can walk the streets unafraid at any time of the day.
DILG said that in 2011, crime rates went down 23.8 percent, and police visibility increased with the field deployment of 90 percent of the police force, as opposed to its previous 85 percent.
The department said financial reforms in the Philippine National Police also led to the 54-percent increase in the budget for field units to P1,000 per capital from P650, meaning that police have more funds for uniform, shoes, bullets and other needs.
Through the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), DILG also initiated investigations and formally filed charges against individuals involved in spurious procurement contracts.
“Tatapatin ko po sa inyo, minsan mabigat sa dibdib ko ang gawaing ito. Subalit pag nakikita ko po yung ordinaryong pulis sa kaduluduluhang istasyon, sinasabi ko po sa aking sarili kailangan ko pong gawin ito para sa kanya. Ito na lang po ang kaniyang pag-asa at magsilbing huwaran din na dapat ang matuwid na daan ang syang dapat nating tahakin (I’d be frank with you, there were times I feel that what I’m doing is a heavy burden. But whenever I see an ordinary policeman in the farthest station, I tell myself that I am doing this for him. This is his only hope and it should serve as an example that it’s the straight path he should follow),” Robredo told officials of the interior sector during his New Year’s Call early this year.
The statement said Robredo said just last week that he intends to pursue all these reforms “at whatever cost, to ensure that the ‘matuwid na daan’ of the President is well lighted and easy to traverse for every citizen.”
“Pinapangako ko po na marami pa tayong pakikinabangan sa mga repormang pinalakas natin sa DILG. Paiigtingin pa natin ang pagbabago sa lokal na pamahalaan at sa interior sector upang suportahan ang ginagawa nyo sa national. Sa tulog ng opisyal at kawani ng DILG, gagawin ko ang lahat ng aking makakaya para maabot natin ang pangarap ng isang bansang matuwid at maayos ang daan (I promise that there will be a lot of changes in the local government and the interior sector to support what you’re doing in the national level. With the help of officials and employees of the DILG, I will do my best to reach our goals in a country on its way to the orderly, straight path),” reads his prepared statement for his upcoming Commission on Appointments hearing.
Robredo’s body, along with two other pilots—Captain Jessup Bahinting and Nepalese co-pilot Kshitiz Chand—was recovered around 7:45 a.m. Tuesday from the fuselage of the Piper Seneca aircraft that crashed off Masbate waters last Saturday.
Robredo’s aide de camp survived and was plucked from the sea several hours after the crash.