Fulfilling the Promise of Localization Through Active Deliberation: The Philippine Local Government Code (LGC) of 1991 as Critically Probed in Multiple Streams Framework (MSF) Analysis
Author: Clyde Andaya Maningo
Advisor: Asst. Prof. Pobsook Chamchong, PhD
- The Philippine government has launched an extensive decentralization policy that aims to devolve the centralized power and provide more autonomy to local government units (LGU)—the Local Government Code (LGC) of 1991. However, decades after its implementation, the adoption of the LGC has been disappointing and uneven (UNDEF, 2016).
- In explicating this outcome, the study traces the agenda-setting of the policy through secondary data analysis and by employing the Multiple Streams Framework (MSF) to understand the events that led to the crafting of the LGC provisions. Results surface that among the motivations (in the problem stream) was the isolation of the people from the policymaking process, especially in the archipelagic context of the country, which results in uneven resource distribution and excessive bureaucratic procedures which hinder the immediate response, especially in peripheries.
- Despite this, there is growing evidence that the country is still far from fulfilling public participation despite having the LGC as policies are still highly centralized and technocratic, and excessive bureaucracy shrouds the procurement processes, which hampers local developments. These are evidenced particularly in the narratives of the Siquijor agrarian community, which surfaced during the triangulation of narratives of farmers, local government staff, and NGOs from the KII
- Finally, the paper proceeds with the recommendation that the utmost utilization of the LGC is when it is paired with integrative local governance primarily focused on augmenting deliberative
The archipelagic context of the Philippines makes it integral to have citizen participation in making national services closer to the grassroots demands. Hence, the Philippine government has launched the Republic Act No. 7160, or the “Local Government Code of 1991 (LGC),” where the primary goal was to ensure that the critical gaps at the community level are addressed through grassroots participation and reach areas undermined in the centralized means of delivering services. The national government functions are now devolved through its provisions in terms of agricultural, environmental, health, and social services. Nevertheless, the Code still has compelling loopholes and gaps that have potentially hindered its promises from being achieved: including (1) the absorptive capacity, (2) financial challenges, (3) personnel distribution disparity, (4) poverty indices, and (5) the increased political dynasty and elite influence (Reyes 2016). Recent curiosity now focuses on whether it has effectively improved the capabilities of the local governments, has responded adequately to the ever-emerging problems and challenges faced by modern society, or has genuinely fulfilled the aspirations of an effective, responsive, and viable local autonomy in the Philippine political framework (Ilago, 1997).
As there are evaluations of the LGC that solely focus on the broader connotation attached to the aftermath of LGC implementation, this paper solely problematizes the inadequacy of fully utilizing the provisions of the LGC that should have allowed more extensive and robust grassroots participation and community-driven development. The LGC provides the structure, but its operationalization is still questioned (Pami, 2022). The notions of communal engagement are, then, necessary to tackle in the LGC implementation, mainly as there have been limited studies that tackle the broader provisional evaluation of the LGC to determine whether it has successfully addressed its core objectives of connecting with local communities demands decades after its promulgation. Hence, this paper addresses this problem through:
- finding the gap in the agenda-setting of the policy through the Multiple Streams Framework (MSF) to shed light on the rationale behind the crafting of the LGC provisions and highlight the notions relating to the demand for grassroots participation or deliberative initiatives,
- from the legal perspective, seeing the context of the LGC provisions through the case of the Siquijor agrarian community to derive a deeper understanding of the subject focus at an experiential level, especially in resource allocation, support, and grassroots participation.
- present recommendations in response to (1) the utmost utilization of the LGC that caters to the inadequate community participation programs through CDD and (2) the experiences of the grassroots agricultural community regarding the delivery of services and the notions of increasing deliberative capacity for LGUs.
This chapter delves into two analyses: the Multiple Streams Framework (MSF), which delves into agenda-setting to trace the legal basis of the LGC and the policy’s agenda-setting. It also allows us to pinpoint the motivations of the LGC, especially highlighting the necessity for people’s participation. The second one is the thematic analysis of the narratives of the Siquijor agrarian community to shed light on the on-ground experiences of people and not solely the legalistic and policy-oriented purview.
The Local Government Code of 1991 in the Lens of Multiple Streams Framework Analysis (Kingdon, 1984)
The figure below showcases how the different streams intersect through the policy window that led to the promulgation of the Philippine LGC of 1991. Notably, the problem stream highlights the need for mechanisms catering to grassroots participation. The driving force behind this is the 1987 Philippine Constitution mandate in Section 16, which specifies that “the right of the people and their organizations to effective and reasonable participation at all levels of social, political, and economic decision-making shall not be abridged. The state shall, by law, facilitate the establishment of adequate consultation mechanisms.” During that time, it has yet to be transformed into actual regulation, which will operationalize the direct participation from civil society. The formulation of LGC was due to the analysis of the leading experts of that time, described in the diagram below’s policy stream. For instance, Devolution and Empowerment: LGC 1991 and Local Autonomy in the Philippines by Tapales (1991) has stated their historical account of why the Philippines has depended on a centralized body traced back to the colonial imposition.
Figure 1: The Multiple Framework Analysis (MSF) of LGC
For the political stream, the MSF probes into these three main domains: (1) the fluctuations of the national mood, which explains the political context—and this is the aftermath of Martial Law in 1972, (2) coping with political forces or the perception of the policymakers on the demands of the people—referring to the EDSA People Revolution I which sowed the notions of people empowerment, and (3) internal government matters or the situation of the decision-making bodies of the country that will deal with the capacity of the administrative system to approve or disprove changes—which points to the constitutional shift to democratization with the 1987 Constitution. (Young, Shepley, & Song, 2010).
The Siquijor Agrarian Community: The LGC Experience and the Emphasis on Deliberative Capacity
The after-effect of the LGC is noticeable three decades after its implementation, especially in agrarian communities. Notably, it moved the agricultural extension services closer to the basic unit of local governance, which gradually changed the agricultural administrative landscape of the Philippines. Under the devolved administrations, the local government units (LGUs) led the implementations of micro-level agricultural developments and policies, including several provisions of support services like financial aid and deployment of human resources (Manasan, 2022). So, if the deliberative aspects and the dimension of socio-civic participation are the objects of analysis, it is imperative to look through the agrarian community’s narratives. While the problematic points of broader operationalization of the LGC have been discussed, the paper reverts to the context of the Siquijor agrarian community, especially to whether they feel more connected to the policymaking bodies of their respective locality. The following themes have surfaced upon being asked about the role of the LGUs in responding to their demands and their participation in the development process, specifically highlighting the deliberative capacity of Siquijor’s decision-making bodies: (1) benefit inequality, (2) logistical/ bureaucratic-related concerns, (3) revert to traditional agrarian methods.
Figure 2: The Coding Scheme of Siquijor Agrarian Community Experience
Undoubtedly, it is critical to avert the academic gaze on the internal facilitations existing in the rural notions and analyze from the purview of grassroots voices the delivery of national and local services, mainly stemming from agricultural support. In doing so, it implicates the contextual deliberative potentials and initiatives by delving into the dynamics of stakeholder integration in agenda setting and the genuine deliberative involvement of the locals in the policy process. The relationship of these analyses is imbued in the framework below, as well as the relevant recommendations proposed in the succeeding parts.
Figure 3: The Conceptual Framework of the Study Showcasing the Policy Recommendations and the Utilization of MSF Analysis
The following encompasses the recommendatory measures that the Philippine government must proceed to ensure the utmost utilization of LGC to augment socio-civic participation. As the agenda-setting of the LGC, as revealed in MSF, is revealed as anchored in the lack of people’s hand in the local decision-making, the following points ensure the acquisition of such objectives as stemming from the institutional or legal operationalization to many comprehensive measures in the localized and grassroots setting.
Institutional/ Legal Dimension: Solidify the Operational Mandate of Communal Engagement in LGC Provisions
- Crystalizing the LGC Further Through Passage of the CDD Institutionalization The CDD approach is a comprehensive approach that various countries like India and Brazil have used in the Rural Poverty Reduction Project (Brazil) and National Program for Community Empowerment (India). the CDD can be defined as an approach to development that ensures community control over investment and technocratic planning. Currently, the CDD is implemented only through the KALIWA-CIDSS, which targets municipalities to be empowered and participate in local planning, budgeting, and implementation. Various bills related to CDD were proposed in the 18th Congress of the Philippines, for instance: (1) Senate Bill No. (SBN) 1057, (2) House Bill Nos. (HBN) 4407, 4470, 4764, 5250, 7866, 8935, and 9065. Nevertheless, to no luck, these CDD Institutionalization Bills failed to be passed.
Figure 4: The Community Empowerment Activity Cycle (CEAC)
- Reimagined Assessment and Monitoring Approach of LGC and the Government This has been the subject of scholarly curiosity of Pami (2022) where the indicators are coined as a grassroots-oriented multi-goal analysis that addresses the acquisition of objectives of policies as it corresponds to people’s welfare, efficiency, and security. Nevertheless, the efficacy of this monitoring and assessment method solely depends on the affirmation of the grassroots, or else it will just be another technocratic maneuver.
Table 1. The Principles of Welfare, Security, and Efficiency for Grassroots Program Monitoring and Assessments
The Joint Memorandum Circular as a Support Network for Increased Coordination in Local Planning Process as Informed by the CDD Approach. This paper direly recommends that provisions like Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) by DILG and DSWD and Memorandum Circular (MC) No. 2021-087 introduced by the DILG the succeeding year be expanded to a Joint Memorandum Circular among DILG, DSWD, and LGU to ensure that there is a clear delineation and establishment of roles following the CDD ideas. The JMC should be able to establish guidelines on how the DILG and DSWD should respond with adequate assistance, while the LGUs be able to conduct local development planning, implementation, evaluation, and monitoring processes at the community level.
Grassroots Practice Management: Harnessing the Deliberative Capacity
The above notions provide suggestions at the institutional level, particularly in the LGU-DSWD-DILG dynamics. Nevertheless, this aspect of this paper’s recommendation delineates how to harness the LGC provision regarding the LGU-NGO-grassroots integration through harnessing deliberative capacity, which is the presence of authentic, inclusive, and consequential political deliberation that democratizes a given political system (Dryzek, 2009).
- Strengthen the Grievance and Feedback Mechanism Through Utilizing NGO/CSOs/ POs-Grassroots-Government The role of the NGOs should be complementary and supportive to the programs raised by respective LGUs. From the obtained narratives of the Siquijor farmers, they are more inclined to connect with the NGOs as direct point persons of their demands. It can be done by aligning NGO roles to the provisions of the LGC: (a) allocating seats in local governing bodies and (b) allowing easy conduct of joint ventures, undertakings, and cooperative arrangements among NGOs through lifting bureaucratic restrictions.
- Proactive Logistical Support Roles Among NGOs and LGUs. It has been underlined that logistical support does not necessarily come for individual/unaffiliated farmers. Regardless of why they remained this way, may it be geographically rooted or personal choice, it is the responsibility of the agricultural administration to ensure that their services will reach all constituencies, even those in the peripheries. It also applies to impoverished sectors without contacting the involved agencies for assistance. Most of the time, these people are the ones who need support the most as they remain left behind, which could also contribute to the poverty situation of the country (Biao, 2007)
- Encouragement of Creating Community-Driven Councils. From the narratives of the Siquijor agrarian community, they find it more empowering to participate in decision- making bodies when affiliated with an It also allows them to exercise their rights to extensively organize and lobby their demands. Considering deliberative mechanisms, these initiatives come from a unified body of people with shared visions and interests, which is integral in shaping authentic, inclusive, and consequential policies as they collectively relay their demands to people in power (Fischer & Gottweis, 2012). It is evident in the success of the Naga City People’s Council (NCPC), where the promotion of the agenda of the sectors was done within and outside of formal avenues offered by the government bodies (United Nations Democracy Fund, 2016).
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