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    Q&A at FEF Fellows Meeting

    23 February 2017

    Question: How do you get accountability? VP Leni: Sir I am not sure if you are familiar with the seal of good house keeping which my husband started. It was a scorecard setting parameter where local government units have targets in many areas of governance, in health, and in education, etc. I am not too sure what year this was launched, maybe 2011 but when he died in 2012 secretary Mar took over. The seal of good house keeping was expanded to the seal of good local governance and the parameters were also expanded. The incentive system was such that when you comply in the lowest level you get this particular share in the performance fund which was set aside. If you are able to target the second set then you will be able to get a bigger share. Then there is a gold level if you are able to target that you will be able to get a bigger share. I think it is still being practiced in the DILG so that is one way. We also started the Bottom Up Budgeting, it is not an incentive based system but it decentralizes the budgeting process in the sense that before, national funds are budgeted by national government alone. They set a certain portion of the funds to let the local government decide on their own. Not just local officials but they also created the local poverty action reduction team, a body composed of half government and half private sector and this body is expected to point out what the needs of their particular community are and decide where the budget would go. It has been proven effective in the sense that the budgeting system are more directed because the complaint before, some of the time, they were given projects which were not responsive to what they most need. So the BUB can answer to the clamor where local governments were given more leeway in deciding where national government funds will go but that has been discontinued now. I think being reinvented to a similar but slightly different mode. But you know the seal of good local governance is I think one of the ways in which we can incentivize. There is still block grants but there is also another pot and this pot you can only have access to that if you comply with a set of parameters. I am not anymore familiar with what the parameters are now because we are under a new administration but during the time of my husband it was the most basic. Improvement of nutrition, etc. And Zuellig Foundatioin is doing a wonderful project also, it’s maternal and child healthcare but basically what Zuellig foundation is doing is they’re capacitating local officials, particularly the mayor and the local health officer. They are required to undergo a particular course, it’s bridging leadership course and there also are a pot of benefits available for them if they reach targets. So there’s baselines, there are targets. Because one of the things we noticed is that there is no, for example in malnutrition, there is no lack in feeding programs. Most of the LGUs have feeding programs. But if you analyze their feeding programs, they don’t even start with baselines they just feed and feed and feed. So even after years of pouring in resources on feeding programs, they don’t even have the parameters to measure whether the feeding programs have been effective or not. So we’re sort of, in our Angat Buhay program, we’ve created a scorecard system also where we need to measure the success every so often. And the success would merit whether they go on to the program, whether they would have access to health through partners, or whether the partners would stop because they are not practicing good governance. So we’re trying to, we have six areas, six pillars now under Angat Buhay. And each pillar we have a technical working group who is working on developing the scorecards. And we do want to employ the incentive system before giving them more projects, before proceeding with the projects. So if they don’t comply with certain parameters, we don’t use it.

    Q: Over the past recent years, there have really been so many discussions about alternative forms of government, parliamentary, federalism. So assuming that you’re not sold on federalism, partly or otherwise, what do you think is the better alternative either in whole or in terms of tweaking that you would suggest? VP Leni: I think the system of government now while we feel is not working in the way that we want it to work, it is still, as of now, the best option that we have. I saw Paul at the back, he has been one of the people who has been advising us and he gives a very good lecture on these forms of government. His lecture was really an eye-opener for all of us. What I was saying in my speech, if federalism is the answer, what is the question? Because I think, very basic, if they’re pushing for federalism what are the objectives of such. And there are several objectives identified. One of them was peace in Mindanao. Another one is more local autonomy for local government units. Our question is, if local autonomy is the question, will federalism be the answer? And our fear is that federalism might be too drastic a remedy for this particular problem. If we look at the dependence or independence, economic dependence or independence of our provinces, I think of our regions, I think of the 17 regions, only two have internally generated incomes. I’m not very sure of the statistics, but if that’s the case, if we go federal, it might be more dangerous for the provinces or the regions, which are not doing economically well. So if local autonomy is the question, so the subsequent question is would federalism be the best answer to the question? And we’re afraid that it’s too drastic a remedy for a political and economic situation such as ours. So it deserves to be discussed really well, in the sense that we don’t really know which model we’ll push. I don’t know if you saw, a few days ago, there was a center spread, I forgot the name of the group, there was really an exhaustive center spread on major dailies about the kind of federalism that is being pushed. But we don’t know if that is the model that is being supported by the government. I remember hearing the President, I think twice, saying that the French model will work for us. But if you look at the French model of government, they’re not really federal. So we want to wait until they propose what particular model of federalism is being pushed. And we will demand an exhaustive discussion of that. We’re not closing our doors, but we’re just saying that there is anxiety on what is being proposed, the kind of federalism.

    Posted in Transcripts on Feb 22, 2017