IMPLEMENTING PARTNER: Kalinga Apayao Religious Sector Association (KARSA)
GRANT AMOUNT: $8,000
THEMES: Local Governance
Strengthening Local Capacities in Good Governance aimed to start citizen engagement activities in five barangays of Tabuk City by establishing barangay monitoring teams and hosting a series of of trainings and seminar workshops for the newly created monitoring teams, barangay government officials and the general public.
In the Kalinga province, KARSA cited a need to better ensure that the local government units were accountable and responsible to the communities that they serve, especially in the periods between elections. They cited two main challenges in local governance in 5 Baragarays of Tabuk City in particular:
- Low citizen interest or capacity to participate in local governance. Without citizen participation, local governments often do not design development programs and projects that respond to the needs of the community. This also leads to weak accountability and no calls for transparency of local governments, a situation ripe for corruption.
- Few opportunities for citizen participation in local governance. Citizens did not perceive any opportunity to get involved in politics aside from participating in the usual channels, like elections. Improved accountability and transparency of local governments, including openness to scrutiny and inclusiveness in decision-making.
KARSA aimed to start citizen engagement activities in five barangays of Tabuk City. Workshops were organized on social accountability and barangay monitoring teams formed in six barangays (one barangay was added during subproject implementation). These teams initially focused on the budget process in their barangays and later monitored over 30 projects implemented in their barangays.
- Six Barangay Monitoring Teams organized to identify, verify and discuss citizen concerns with the barangay officials for action.
- Citizens were made aware of local government responsibilities, specifically the processes of planning and budgeting, which should be followed strictly by their elected officials.
- Citizens are more aware of the role they should play in the development and affairs in their home barrio. Youth, women’s and other civic organizations became more participative or cooperative particularly in the assemblies and meetings where officials invite them to take part.
- Citizen attendance at local government meetings has increased and livelier discussions are taking place. Women are more assertive in voicing their opinions during meetings and consultations. They are more empowered to assert their roles and participation in the barangay development, while the local officials, who are mostly dominated by men, became more open to women’s involvement in decision-making.
- Officials regularized information dissemination of budgets and put more weight on making them more transparent through more consultations and presentations at the purok and sectoral level.
- Citizens became more religious and voluntary in paying their realty and business taxes, permits clearances, acquire CTCs, as well as voluntarily pay their quarry fees without much complaining, because of the perceived better use of the taxes in the development of their barrio.
The following are some of the lessons learned by the Project team:
- Sharing experiences between barangays on participatory planning and budgeting enhances each other’s plan.
- Barangay officials become more sensitive and aware of their accountabilities, responsibilities and became more transparent in the discharge of their duties as local officers. Budgets and plans are made public and sectoral and purok consultations are intensified.
- Officials of barangay Magsaysay who were sincere in their practice of good governance gained wider support and deeper trust from the citizenry.