SECRETARY EMMANUEL F. ESGUERRA
Socioeconomic Planning Secretary and
27th ANNUAL CONVENTION OF THE LEAGUE OF LOCAL PLANNING AND DEVELOPMENT COORDINATORS OF THE PHILIPPINES, INC. (LLPDCPI)
“The Role of Development Planners in Good Governance”
Holiday Inn, Clark, Pampanga
8 March 2016, 9:00 AM
Mr. Roberto Dizon, National President of the LLPDCPI;
Mr. Victor Castañeda, Regional President and Convention Chair;
Esteemed officials and members of the league;
Colleagues in government planning, colleagues at NEDA, friends, ladies and gentlemen, good morning.
It is an honor to join you today on the occasion of your 27th annual national convention, and speak about our role as development planners in good governance. As we all know, the current administration’s reform agenda is very much anchored on good governance, which is one of the pillars of the updated Philippine Development Plan 2011-2016.
Let me begin by citing some of the headway we’ve made in bringing about good governance, and then discuss what remains to be done, and what is our role in it as development planners.
Over the past years of this administration, reforms and initiatives have been instituted first to increase transparency, citizen’s participation, performance management, and accountability measures, and second, to strengthen the rule of law. All are grounded on the principles of good governance such as transparency, accountability, inclusiveness, effectiveness, and efficiency.
The Open Government Initiative, for one, has been successful in making more information publicly available such as budgets, procurement plans, and local action plans. The Bottom-Up Budgeting Program or BUB has also opened opportunities for citizens to participate in governance as they are able to contribute to the formulation and implementation of government programs.
In addition, many cities and municipalities are now conducting citizen satisfaction surveys, and some cities and municipalities now have local poverty reduction action plans. A large number of national government agencies (NGAs) and government owned and controlled corporations (GOCCs) are now also entering into Budget Partnership Agreements with civil society organizations.
In terms of performance management and accountability, more offices that provide services to the public, especially those offices that used to be the most complained about, have been passing the Anti-Red Tape Act Report Card Survey. Moreover, there are now more than 250 provinces, cities, and municipalities conferred with the Seal of Good Local Governance.
On strengthening the rule of law, more courts are now doing continuous trials and the number of Philippine Mediation Center offices that promote alternative dispute resolution has also increased.
These accomplishments have resulted in a rise in the percentile ranking of the Philippines in the Worldwide Governance Indicators. Despite these accomplishments, we have a lot more to do in the short-term and these are where our current efforts as development planners must focus.
First, there is a need for some targeted provinces, cities, and municipalities to catch-up on initiatives that concern compliance with the Full Disclosure Policy. Importantly, beyond disclosure or access to information, we need to sustain and keep improving the processes of getting citizens to participate in governance. For example, we have been hearing positive feedback from those who have been involved in BuB and Budget partnership Agreements or have clearly observed how these work. With a change in administration, the challenge is to make sure that such processes and mechanisms remain and are strengthened to avoid reversal of gains and to ensure that the intended outcomes are realized.
Second, we need to deal with bottlenecks concerning the implementation of infrastructure programs and delivery of services, as these will have a large impact on the economy and on the lives of our citizens. We need to be decisive in addressing the many policy issues and implementation problems that get in the way of infrastructure projects, such as those related to land use, right of way, construction and business permits and fees from national and local governments. Major improvements in frontline services of public agencies likewise have to happen to reduce the direct costs, compliance costs, and opportunity costs to the citizens and enterprises that often go through a maze of processes and requirements.
Thus, it is important for us to guard against ineffective governance practices by helping institute and implement governance reforms that are necessary for the efficient implementation of development plans. Identifying these ineffective governance practices and eventually the right interventions and solutions need to be grounded on rigorous and specific evidence, based on local socioeconomic statistics or performance indicators. This is a crucial aspect in our role as development planners in all areas of government – national, regional, provincial, local, until down to the barangay level.
To ensure consistency, it is also important for regional and local plans to be aligned with the national plan. We recognize that there is no one-size-fits-all intervention that has succeeded in the past. That is why the updated PDP 2011-2016 provides a set of strategies with regard to geography. This means that the quality of one’s natural environment, distance from opportunities, quality of institutions, and location, have to be considered during the planning process. These are then translated into the Regional Development Plans, which then serve as guide to local planning. This work of aligning the processes of planning, investment programming, budgeting and monitoring, from top to bottom and vice-versa not only ensures efficiency and responsiveness but also promotes transparency and accountability in governance.
We must always keep this in mind as we are all planning essentially for public welfare. Thus, our information at hand must be a product of careful research and deliberation. Whether in the area of health, education, disaster risk reduction and management, land use, environmental use and protection, or infrastructure development. Our assumptions should have been challenged and validated in the process, impacts thoroughly analyzed, and target results and outcomes informed by sound data, as well as by feedback from stakeholders. Thus, we must continue to invest in building our capacity and expertise in every stage of the whole planning cycle to be able to effectively carry out the tasks required of us.
Overall, the whole process from formulation to approval of policy and project recommendations should be grounded on the principles of good governance.
This is why I congratulate the LLPDCPI for forging partnerships with NEDA Regional Office and hopefully, in the very near future, with NEDA as a whole, for the integration of their regional and local plans, and the synchronization of their planning, investment programming, budgeting, and monitoring processes. The implementation of this partnership paves the way for the further attainment of our good governance objectives and I hope that this will be replicated in other regions.
Thank you and Mabuhay tayong lahat.