For a region that has long been beset with conflict and poverty, local government units (LGUs) in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) are finally gearing up toward better local governance with its planned P4.196-billion budget for 2018-2019.
Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Ismael Sueno said 117 LGUs in the autonomous regionhave identified various programs, projects, services and activities each with a corresponding budget as their commitment toward good governance and in pushing up their current good governance standing during a recently concluded summit held in Davao City.
The more than P4 billion proposed budget will cover initiatives in rural development, good governance at all levels, basic services for all, climate change adaptation and disaster resiliency, public peace and order and security infrastructure support.
Sueno said the summit was the idea of President Rodrigo Duterte to determine the current stage of local development and governance among LGUs in the autonomous region and find ways on how to improve their performance.
“We all know that the Bangsamoro people have suffered from historical grievances and political challenges that have exacerbated poverty and conflicts in ARMM. So the recently concluded summit was a kickstart for good governance to finally come to this region,” he added.
By being made aware of their roles and duties for good governance, local chief executives were informed of the consequences of their failure to perform their duties.
No budget program
The DILG secretary saw red flags upon learning that of the 117 LGUs present during the summit, only 81 have approved budgets.
“The LGUs must have an approved budget before spending,” he said, adding that he will request the Commission on Audit (COA), ARMM and the Ombudsman to look into the budgets and spending of the local government units.
The LGUs, according to Sueno, have to fully utilize their 20 percent development fund based on an approved plan and budget.
They must also follow auditing rules to the letter instead of bribing, threatening or intimidating COA auditors, he said.
Sueno added that change in governance cannot remain at the national and local levels and that it entails a shift from a sense of entitlement to performance among the LGUs in the autonomous region.
He urged ARMM local executives to translate their commitments into action through improved performance and stronger collaboration with national government agencies.