By Chito Chavez
A total of 186 local chief executives were stripped of their supervisory powers over the police since President Rodrigo Duterte took office.
Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) officer-in-charge Eduardo M. Año said the local chief executives lost their police powers allegedly due to their involvement in the illegal drug trade, failure to stop acts of terrorism, or for having provided various forms of support to terrorist groups.
Of the 186 local chief executives, eight are governors and 178 are city or municipal mayors.
Año said this is aside from the 156 local officials suspended and dismissed due to grave misconduct, serious dishonesty, neglect of duty, conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service, abuse of authority, and irregularities.
“By offering the public mechanisms to report complaints, such as the Hotline 8888 and the Office of the President itself, we were able to investigate and file cases against local officials alleged to be abusive or not performing their job in accordance with their mandate,” Año said.
He noted that in Boracay alone, 17 local officials were charged with administrative and/or criminal cases by the DILG based on the findings of its investigating team.
Through people’s cooperation, the DILG was also able to serve 237 Ombudsman decisions, investigate 57 complaints against local officials, issue and implement eight show-cause orders against illegal mining operations in Caraga region..
At least 16 local officials will also be charged for failure to organize and convene their Barangay Anti-Drug Abuse Council, he adds.
Año said the DILG also has a banner program on anti-corruption, the Bantay Korapsyon, which aims to deter graft and corruption in local governments.
“Our Bantay Korapsyon program has opened the door for the people to be informed and aware on pertinent laws and policies on corruption, to help us prevent it, including the occurrence of ghost projects at the local level by tapping the CSOs to be part in the actual monitoring of programs and projects,” he said.
Año noted the DILG’s efforts to strengthen local development councils through its Assistance to Municipalities (AM) program which already implemented 2,546 water projects for clean and potable drinking water benefiting more than 1-million households nationwide, as well as the construction of local roads and bridges, and marketplace and shelters..
“The advocacy on good local governance and anti-corruption was done year round to underscore local officials and ordinary Filipinos that honest, transparent, clean and corruption-free governance is key to the country’s development and improvement in the lives of our people,” he said.
Partnership with CSOs
The department has also offered the people and CSOs’ opportunity and platform to assess the performance and service delivery effectiveness of the LGUs.
Año cited that the DILG’s Seal of Good Local Governance program wherein the DILG partnered with civil society organizations (CSOs) in determining which LGUs actually perform and are able to meet the stringent performance metrics such as financial administration, disaster preparedness, social protection, peace and order, business-friendliness and competitiveness, environmental management, and tourism, culture and the arts.
“Despite the high standard, the DILG recognized 449 LGU passers in 2017 which is 47 percent higher than the previous year, and 208 out of the 449 LGUs are new passers of the Seal which shows the raising of the bar in pushing for good governance at the local level,” he said.
People become ‘owners’
In its continuing efforts to make the people’s voice heard, the DILG reached out to local officials and common people in various regional dialogues to promote good governance and accountability.
“When people are heard, they become “owners” rather than mere recipients of government programs and projects,” Año said.
The DILG chief also underscored the need for local government units (LGUs) to have frequent and inclusive dialogues to immediately address and provide for the people’s needs.
“We will continue to create new spaces of engagement and widen existing mechanisms to enrich citizen’s participation,” he said.