The Local Government Code of 1991 has paved the way for broader People’s participation in the affairs of their Government and maximize several democratic provisions of this Code for the advancement of Genuine People Empowerment.
People’s ideas and proposals can be concretely expressed and asserted through built-in mechanism in implementing policies and programs that will truly reflect the people’s aspirations.
Foremost among the mandated mechanisms is the establishment of Development Councils in every Barangay, Municipal, City and provincial levels of Government throughout the country. The Code defines the number that will comprise the Development Councils in each of these Local Government Units (LGU’s) of which at least 25% shall come from Non-Government Organizations and People’s Organizations (PO’s) of their constituencies.
The main task of these councils is to formulate development plans for their respective areas of concern, monitor and evaluate their implementation including other Government programs and projects affecting them. Therefore the 25% representation of the people (thru their organizations) in these Development Councils is the concrete expression of people’s participation which we can develop further.
To achieve these ideals however, there must be an active participation among NGO’s/PO’s, otherwise, the broadest possible participation of the people in the Government’s decision-making process becomes in-effective.
The Code already establishes the mechanisms for people’s participation in partnership with the LGU’s in pursuance of transparency ang good governance.
Some LGU’s on the other hand, including our very own Barangay Fortune in Marikina City are halfhearted on implementing the concept and principle and in the instances where they were adopted, most are tinged with narrow political interests. To begin with, there has been no massive campaign by the Barangay, to inform and educate the NGO’s/PO’s of their role in governance. This resulted to the low or no participation of these organizations in the development councils. And yet, the few that are presently involved were irregularly chosen, and their participation are mere pseudo representations of the people in those bodies thus, a bogus development council.
In order to effectively obtain the people’s genuine interests, there must be an organized forum of all NGO’s/PO’s within the Barangay which shall emanate their collective concerns. These valid concerns may then be brought before their development council through their legitimately chosen representatives, or to other government agencies for appropriate action. This forum will take in the form of People’s Council (PC) of all concerned NGO/PO’s in the Barangay, not only to give directions to their 25% representation in their development council, but also to serve as a realistic sounding board for the multisectoral interests of the community.
For all its intent and purposes, this People’s Councils must attain a high degree of credibility and independence to gain the respect and confidence, not only of its member organizations but by the council itself. It must show sincerity in pursuing pro-people programs.
The formation of the People’s Council, tactically called – “Barangay Fortune People’s Council” must therefore be an entirely non-government initiative. It may not achieve its desired goals if initiated by government officials or politicians as it may be suspected of having political or electoral agenda, and if so, many of its members may only be there to seek political patronage. To be truly effective, these People’s Councils must consist of NGO’s and PO’s bound together for the common purpose of pursuing the People’s democratic rights and welfare and achieving a fast, meaningful and genuine development of their communities.