Pamangkutanon sang Banwa: Kwentahan hindi Kwentohan (PsB)
Municipality of Bingawan, Iloilo, Philippines

A. Problem Analysis

 1. What was the problem before the implementation of the initiative?
Words can move mountains but in public service and governance, actions are still the best gauge of one’s accomplishments. Power clutches local politicians hold position and power even without clear vision for development. During election time, their campaigns are overflowing with empty promises and are easily offered to the electorates. But when elected, the citizens marvel where all the promises have gone. Republic Act 7160 (Local Government Code of 1991) mandated Local Government Units (LGUs) to ensure representation of basic sectors in Local Development Council and other special bodies wherein sectors choose representatives from among their groups. In essence, this people’s participation has opened opportunities for innovation to develop a more responsive and accountable local government structure. Though in actual practice, local elected officials choose only their allies to sit in council and local special bodies which ignores genuine inclusive people’s participation in public administration and governance. In effect, LGU responses to the needs of the community are sometimes ineffective resulting to unnecessary spending of its meager resources. The real voices of the legitimate representatives of the vulnerable sectors are not heard and included in the development planning, programming and budgeting as well as in the implementation, monitoring and evaluation of programs and projects.

B. Strategic Approach

 2. What was the solution?
Pamangkutanon sang Banwa (PsB): “Kwentahan hindi Kwentohan” (Citizens’ Query: Accountability, not Lip Service) is a multi-sectoral participatory governance program which aims to promote transparency and accountability in local governance. It establishes a venue to assess performance of elected leaders and public officials and to raise issues, concerns and recommendations on the delivery of basic services. It tackles various issues: (1) lack of feed-backing mechanisms, transparency and accountability systems; (2) unclear leadership agenda; (3) limited participation of the citizenry in administration and governance and; (4) reactive management of service delivery.

 3. How did the initiative solve the problem and improve people’s lives?
Pamangkutanon sang Banwa (PsB) is a trail-blazing practice of assessing the performance of executives, legislators, village leaders and civil servants through regular municipal assembly. It commences during election period wherein candidates are asked to sign a Performance Evaluation Covenant (PEC) that when elected into office will submit themselves to public performance evaluation once every six (6) months (every second Monday of February and July). It binds public officials to their words and promises and serve as a goad that pushes or drives them to perform their mandates as civil servants and not masters of their constituents. During the PsB, local officials personally and publicly present their reports of accomplishment for the past six months. After which, there is an open forum with the constituents to cater questions, clarifications or recommendations regarding the report or other governance-related issues. Concerned officials are obliged to give responses and actions to be taken to answer the queries immediately. Likewise, they can propose policies or measures to be considered in the succeeding development planning and budgeting cycle. Through this municipal assembly, the community could publicly express their needs of services based on the actual realities at the grassroots level. Involving the electorates in the PsB compel local officials to effectively improve planning programming, budgeting as well as project, program and policy implementation, monitoring and evaluation. By massive information dissemination, baseline information gathering, strengthening of local governance structure and LGU policy formulation, this public feed-backing and reporting mechanism will track down, appraise actions and performance of local officials and LGU personnel. With this performance-based leadership is promoted and access of electorates to public information is provided and highlighted; enhancing a pro-active role and participation of constituents in the delivery of services and other governance processes.

C. Execution and Implementation

 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
PsB mechanism and processes are not like the conventional assemblies in most LGUs in the Philippines. It is a community-driven advocacy inspired by the built-in design of voter’s education. It is founded on public accountability through signing of Performance Evaluation Covenant (PEC) by the candidates at the onset of election period that when elected into office will subject themselves to public performance evaluation. It is an empowering and participatory community innovation which provides venue for the electorate to demonstrate their rights to exact performance-based governance. The multi-stakeholder approach of the program broadens the opportunity for re-engineering of existing administration and management of public service delivery. It is a low-cost high-impact initiative of the community that brings local government more open and closer, transparent and accountable through public disclosure of government affairs. It is an important public event held regularly either at the town proper or 14 villages of the municipality. It has a two-way traffic mechanism allowing constituents to directly raise relevant governance questions and seek immediate response of officials concerned. It gives the populace a sense of empowerment and belongingness by allowing their participation in identifying community needs, issues, concerns and in finding, implementing and monitoring solutions.

 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
LGU-CSO-PO (People’s Organization) partnership investments, institutionalized the PsB Executive Committee through Municipal Ordinance No. 1, 2004 and the Project Management Team (PMT) through Executive Order No. 11, 2017. The said order granted the PMT with the authority to formulate plans and facilitate in regular basis the conduct of PsB. The PMT is comprise of representatives from different sectors to include farmers, youth, elderly, cooperatives, academe, business and transport group, women, persons with disability (PWD’s) and religious sector, as well as LGU representatives from the executive and legislative department and league of villages. It spearheads and decides on every aspect of the program implementation except for venue identification. It selects from among the sectoral representatives the members of screening committee, panelist, documenter and timekeeper who will serve as facilitators during the conduct of the PsB. The executive committee is composed of the Local Chief Executive, Chairperson of the Committee on Good Government of the Municipal Council, representatives from Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPC-RV) and NGO/PO, and Municipal Local Government Operations Officer (MLGOO) of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) – a national agency. It determines the venue for every conduct of PsB. There are about 500 participants per conduct of the activity. These number includes the general public, various Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), People’s Organizations (POs), students, pupils and religious groups. Regardless of sex and status in the community all participants are given the same opportunity to raise relevant governance questions, clarifications and recommendations. Moreover, the result of the program could benefit the more or less 15,000 population of the municipality.
 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
In actual practice, during election period the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPC-RV) conducts village level voter’s education and candidates’ forum to guide the electorates in choosing the right candidates. PsB also commences during this period. Candidates are asked to sign a Performance Evaluation Covenant (PEC) that when elected into office will submit themselves to performance evaluation once every six months (every second Monday of February and July). The Project Management Team facilitates the over-all conduct of the activity. Invitation and announcements are made through Local Development Council meetings, streamers and social media postings, public address system, in church masses and worship services and in schools’ flag ceremonies. Pre-activity meetings and consultations are held to plan, prepare, and select members of the Screening Committee, Panelists, documenters and timekeeper to ensure smooth flow of PsB. The actual conduct lasts for about four hours or half a day. It is divided into two parts: the reporting and the open forum. Corresponding mechanics were established for proper guidance. The Mayor (Local Chief Executive) delivers the accomplishment report of the executive department while the report of the legislative department is presented by the Vice Mayor. The financial report is also presented by the Municipal Treasurer or the Municipal Accountant. They have 15-20 minutes each to deliver the presentation. For the open forum, questions are written on a piece of paper and placed into drop boxes circulating the venue. In order to accommodate questions from the public who could not attend the actual conduct, drop boxes are distributed in advance at the villages, churches, schools, public market and other conspicuous places. These questions are also raised and addressed during the open forum. In lieu of direct oral questioning, it is agreed and established by the stakeholders that queries should be in written form to avoid irrelevant, personal and below-the-belt questions. Written questions also serve as official reference document useful for re-planning and re-programming of community development projects. All questions pass through the Screening Committee before it is forwarded to the Panelist to avoid duplication and to ensure that only relevant governance questions are raised. The Panelist, then, directs a specific question to concerned elected officials. Questions are read twice for clarity. The respondent have 3-5 minutes to answer the query. A not locally-based, competent and credible moderator who understands the context of governance of the locality is invited to smoothen the flow of question and answer process during the open forum. This is to ensure neutrality and objectivity. The moderator helps clarify questions to generate specific answers. When there are questions that could not be accommodated due to time constraint, all qualified queries are read in the assembly by the Panelist informing and assuring the public that these queries will be forwarded to the PMT for consolidation and presentation to the Municipal Council for appropriate action. Since 2004 to 2016, Php 20,000.00 per year is allotted in the annual budget of the LGU for the program. This is used for the snacks (Php 7,000.00), honorarium of moderator (Php 6,000.00), public address system (Php 4,000.00) and logistics (Php3,000.00). LGU also provided free service vehicle to transport participants to and from the venue. Host village also gives counterpart for the snacks in varied amount or in-kind depending on its capacity. All human resources involved in the program implementation except for the moderator are volunteers. In 2017, budgetary allocation increased to Php 30,000.00. Thus, during the conduct of 25th PsB last February, 11 PMT members were given allowance of Php 3oo.oo per head. Budget for snacks and logistics also increased.

 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
The Iloilo CODE NGOs (ICODE), Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPC-RV), Local Government Unit (LGU), local People’s Organizations (POs), and the academe are the major designers of PsB. As early as 2000, Iloilo CODE NGOs, a provincial network of Non-Government Organizations has been conducting community organizing activities in the municipality to promote people’s participation in governance and empowerment of local communities. Prior to 2001 election, the Jaro Archdiocesan Social Action Center (JASAC), a social arm of Archdiocese of jaro, Iloilo, Philippines invited CSO community organizers to a seminar on voter’s education conducted by the PPC-RV, a Commission on Election (COMELEC) accredited citizens’ arm responsible for educating electorates and poll watching to ensure a fair, honesty, orderly and peaceful election. This started the ICODE-PPC-RV partnership. They spearhead voter’s education and candidates’ forum, advocate and campaign for transparency and accountability and mobilize people’s participation in governance. With the support of local people’s organization and acceptance of the LGU the initiative to establish a performance evaluation system for elective officials was conceptualized. This led to the establishment of Pamangkutanon sang Banwa (Citizens’ Query): Kwentahan Hindi Kwentohan (Accountability not lip service). As the program progresses, the LGU strengthened its support through legislative actions. The Municipal Council enacted Municipal Ordinance No. 01 series of 2004 establishing the Pamangkutanon sang Banwa and providing funds for its implementation. It mandates reporting of plans, programs and accomplishments to the public, and provides policy support for strengthening and replication. Meanwhile, the CSOs, POs and the academe leads the advocacy and community awareness, assist in the conduct of voter’s education for electorates, conducts role playing of students during the Youth Week Celebration, information dissemination to local media and replication to the villages and other municipalities.

 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
PsB is a participatory approach which strengthened multi-stakeholder partnership. The LGU, ICODE, local CSO and The Asia Foundation partnership created an opportunity to replicate the PsB at the 14 villages of the locality and to other municipalities. Through the established multi-stakeholder partnership the program is also presented in different international forums. The program empowers people. It enables the citizenry to voice out and demand effective delivery of services. For instance, even students from far flung villages are given opportunity to express their difficulty on daily transport with only poor transportation system available. The LGU responded by prioritizing improvement of road networks and upgrading of schools in its development agenda. Four (4) primary schools were elevated to elementary and an extension campus for secondary education was established in a strategically located village to make education more accessible. PsB provides mechanism that establishes equal opportunities for men and women to participate in governance processes. In the Philippine culture, common role of men is to earn a living while women perform household chores. Due to unavailability of men, women are often sent to attend the PsB. This creates a lot of opportunities for them to increase awareness and knowledge. In effect, women recognized their vital role as partner in development and started to occupy leadership positions in local organizations previously dominated by men. Gender paradigm shift in leadership and participation in community affairs is very observable. The democratic space provided by the program for people to evaluate performance of elected officials strengthens performance-based governance and politics in the locality. It motivates politicians to conscientiously perform their mandates as gauge to increase chances for re-election. It helps balance the power between local government and its constituents. In effect, it upholds accountability, discourages abuse of power, graft and corruption among public officials. PsB is a two-way learning process that promotes transparency in local governance. Through the regular municipal assembly, development plans, programs, project, annual budgetary allocation, income, expenditures and other government undertakings are reported to the public. It also provides venue for the LGU to educate the community and give clarifications on governmental procedures and processes affecting service delivery. While the local community could provide information to supplement and validate data necessary to improve local development processes in meeting community needs and demands. It provides a healthy, dynamic and productive interaction between electorates and elected officials on local development agenda and thrust.

 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
The number of attendees during the conduct of PsB is the major challenge in implementing the program. The poor condition of road and limited means of transportation affects willingness of constituents to attend. To address the problem, free vehicle service is provided to transport participants to and from the venue. Recently, an innovation to incorporate service delivery as an added feature of the program is initiated to encourage more attendees. Among the initial services offered are free mobile birth registration, issuance of community tax certificate and free identification card lamination.

D. Impact and Sustainability

 10. What were the key benefits resulting from this initiative?
Peoples’ right to vote is expressed through election. By virtue of their mandate, elected officials are representatives of the people. Thus, their governance decisions and actions should reflect that of the people. The PsB is a mechanism that evaluates their performance. It promotes performance-based politics. RA 7160 (Local Government Code of 1991) mandated LGUs to have a comprehensive multi-sectoral development plan initiated by its Municipal Development Council (MDC). As provided, non-government organizations (NGOs) shall constitute not less than one-fourth (1/4) of MDC membership. However, to be qualified as regular member, NGOs should undergo accreditation process in the Municipal Council. Considering the tedious process of accreditation not all peoples’ organization could comply the requirements. As a result, they do not have opportunity to be part of the planning process. Through PsB, all citizenry whether or not they belong to any organization could participate in local governance processes. It provided a venue for people to raise their needs, issues and concerns for inclusion in the local development agenda and to give feedback on the implementation of programs and projects as part of monitoring and evaluation. For concrete example, very poor road network is a chronic problem of the whole municipality. Recurrent and significant number of questions regarding this concern raised every conduct of PsB expresses the urgency and necessity to address the issue. This leads the LGU and the community to give premium to the problem as highest priority project. For almost ten years of implementing Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive Integrated Delivery of Social Service (KALAHI-CIDSS) program in the municipality, a community-driven project of the Department of Social Welfare and Development, 31 road projects out of 46 total sub-projects were completed. The CSOs also prioritized road projects under the Bottom-Up-Budgeting (BUB). The LGU accessed various funds for rehabilitation and concreting of roads. As a result, significant improvement of road networks in the municipality is observable. Improved road networks benefit the whole community particularly the farmers, women and children, elderly and persons with disability and other vulnerable groups. It enhances accessibility of far flung areas and eases mobility, reduces by almost half the usual travel time, lessen transportation cost, improves delivery of services and facilitates easy transport of products to the market. The Quality and frequency of questions regarding certain issue or concern raised every conduct of PsB measure the effectiveness and impact of the responses and actions taken.

 11. Did the initiative improve integrity and/or accountability in public service? (If applicable)
Public service is a public trust. PsB is a mechanism that helps protect the sacredness of votes because it makes popularity, traditional 3Gs (guns, goons, gold) and empty promises of non-performing re-electionist and undeserving new aspiring candidates irrelevant to guarantee victory in the election. To ensure accountability of winning candidates, aspirants to public office are asked to sign a covenant in front of the public that when elected they will submit themselves to a public performance evaluation. The program obliged elected officials to fulfill their duties as public servants and not public masters. Their performance gauge their chances for re-election which is proven true in the case of four (4) non-performing candidates seeking to be re-elected who lost the past elections. It also educates the electorates that performance-based politics is a parameter in selecting a candidate to be entrusted of public service.

 12. Were special measures put in place to ensure that the initiative benefits women and girls and improves the situation of the poorest and most vulnerable? (If applicable)
Different women’s groups were organized by the LGU. As recognized partners, they are represented in local special bodies and other committees at the LGU level including the PMT of PsB. Being part of these bodies, they are given equal opportunity to advance their development agenda. In response to their vital role in local development, together with them the LGU were able to formulate the following: Gender and Development Code, Children’s Code, Health and Sanitation Code, Environmental Code among other legislations for welfare and protection. This resulted to mainstreaming of gender sensitivity in development plans.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Municipality of Bingawan, Iloilo, Philippines
Institution Type:   Local Government  
Contact Person:   Mark Palabrica
Title:   Local Chief Executive  
Telephone/ Fax:   (063)(033)5175139
Institution's / Project's Website:  
E-mail:   lgubingawan@gmail.com  
Address:   Poblacion, Bingawan, Iloilo
Postal Code:   5041
City:  
State/Province:   Iloilo
Country:  

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