20 July 2007

'Simpleng buhay'

My column for this week's issue of Vox Bikol.

UPON invitation by DILG Regional Director Blandino Maceda, I made a quick trip to Legazpi last Wednesday to attend a meeting of city and provincial planning officers in the Bicol region in preparation for the rollout and eventual implementation of the JMC.

For those working in the Philippine local government sector, JMC is shorthand for Joint Memorandum Circular No. 1 series of 2007 issued last March 8 that rationalizes planning, investment programming, revenue administration and expenditure management among LGUs – your provinces, cities, municipalities and barangays.

This effort is long overdue. One tidbit of info: before this new policy, Philippine local governments are actually required to produce 22 different plans – from the standard land use and local development plans to sectoral plans for coconut zone development, nutrition, culture and arts, food security, shelter and so on.

This is the product of many agencies working independently of one another, trying to push their own mandates and institutional agenda. It is not too different from the so-called 24 independent republics that comprise the Philippine Senate. Or the fondness of congressmen for “unfunded mandates” -- laws that are nice to hear but costly to implement, as Palawan Rep. Abraham Mitra complained about. But I digress and just reserve the topic for another entry.

Under the new Philippine planning machinery defined under the JMC, these 22 will be reduced to four basic planning documents. These are:

1. The Comprehensive Land Use Plan (CLUP), the policy guide for the regulation of land uses embracing the LGU’s entire territorial jurisdiction. This document, which has a 10 to 15-year timeline, will define local settlements, protected areas, production areas, and infrastructure.

2. The six-year Comprehensive Development Plan (CDP), the multi-sectoral plan to promote the general welfare of the LGU. It will define the sectoral goals, objectives, strategies, programs, projects and legislative measures of the locality.

3. The three-year Executive-Legislative Agenda (ELA), the term-based component of the CDP that coincides with the three-year terms of elected local officials, and

4. The three-year Local Development Investment Plan (LDIP) and its annual iteration, the Annual Investment Plan (AIP). Comprising of prioritized programs, projects and activities (PPAs) programmed for financing, these two documents are the principal instruments that will implement the CDP, the ELA and to some extent, certain aspects of the CLUP, under the new planning system.

Of course, the 15 or so sectors for which separate planning documents used to be prepared will be incorporated in either the CLUP and the CDC, make no mistake about it. But clearly, this new planning regime greatly simplifies the process, and our lives as local staff mandated to coordinate it.

And implementing it is the least of our concerns right now. Why? Because the Naga planning staff has a one-year headstart than most, having carefully studied the June 14, 2005 paper produced by the UP School of Urban and Regional Planning (SURP) that provided the main input in the JMC's crafting. And in our own effort to update local plans, we have adjusted our moves, approaches and strategies accordingly.

The SURP paper (input) and the JMC (output) is a good example of how policy can evolve in the Philippines without Congress getting into the picture. Planning of course is not a sexy (like, say Daya Na aka "Migz" Zubiri's jologs factor), lucrative (like the Commission on Appointments brouhaha) or controversial (like the Human Security Act)
topic that will get you in primetime news or in the frontpages of our papers. But just imagine for a second if it did: I would say the outcome would be different, catastrophic even, like the fate suffered by the Cheap Medicines bill.

In the light of the most unproductive Congress in Philippine history, this should easily justify doing away with the legislature altogether. But then there's the urgent need for oversight, especially with an administration whose capacity for wrongdoing is practically boundless -- which is just about the only argument remaining for its continued existence.

8 comments:

Urbano dela Cruz said...

willy,

this streamlining of the local planning process sounds really promising. framing it as a relationship between instrument, goals and timeframes will go a long way to helping local leaders orient their development plans to clear deliverables.

I have not seen this kind of innovation at this scale anywhere else. Can you also map the required documents vs. the lead agencies and the department clusters?

i am very excited. If this strategy bears fruit, then it bolsters my belief that changes in local government will make more of a difference in the lives of our countrymen despite (and inspite of) the paralysis of national government.

Keep us posted.

UDC

INKBLOTS said...

Well, Naga I guess, is more technically advanced compared to other cities. What worries me most are the 4th to 5th class LGUs who could barely finance their basic services, and venture again on a planning activity like this.

While it becomes easier now, there are still LCEs who do not give a damn on these plans. They would rather enjoy their perks and leave their constituents dying in poverty.

While there would be ambitious "plans" to put up "plans" like these, the bottomline is still poverty. I would still like to see the day when these plans actually become actual programs and projects, and translate into food on the table.

I just hope Naga's leadership wouldn't just shelve these plans and gather dust and cobwebs.

Kudos to your blog! Great stuff! I linked you.

Cheers!

Ding

Urbano dela Cruz said...

ah, isn't that the rub?

Plans are only plans are only plans -and are only good if we make good on them.

But, where would we be without plans if we were really determined to make significant changes?

What is that old adage? "Those who fail to plan plan to fail."

UDC

Willy B. Prilles, Jr. said...

Urbano: Kindly check this out.

Inkblots: Thanks for the link and the visit. From our meeting, and the presentation as well, the responsibility for helping out lower-class towns is being placed squarely on the provincial governments.

INKBLOTS said...

Good to hear about that, Willy. But I just hope we wont get another loan to finance the preparation of these plans.

The concept of big brother-small brother among LGUs providing technical assistance should be adopted in this case. Otherwise, sayang ang pera sa technical assistance (na naman).

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