Robredo: Embodiment of ‘tuwid na daan’

Posted at 08/21/2012 1:10 PM | Updated as of 08/21/2012 3:43 PM

A statement from the Department of Interior and Local Government

Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Jesse Robredo has advanced reforms in local government and the interior sector that are crucial for the country's "matuwid na daan," government officials, lawmakers, civil society organizations, the academe, urban poor groups, and other supporters said.

Robredo's body has been found on the morning of Aug. 21 by search and rescue teams in Masbate City, ending almost three days of waiting. He was on his way home to Naga City after two speaking engagements in Cebu City, when the twin-engine Piper Seneca aircraft he was on crash-landed off Bgy. Obingay, Masbate City around 500 meters away from the airport runway.

Fishermen rescued his aide de camp, Sr. Police Inspector Jun Abrazado, who lost consciousness trying to protect the secretary, but Robredo and the two pilots remained missing after the crash.

Movement for Good Governance chairperson Solita Monsod said it was crucial that the reforms initiated by Robredo be continued and that his replacement would make sure that the ideals he fought for be protected.

Up until the night before his departure for Cebu, Robredo has been pushing his management team to find more effective ways to advance reforms in local governance and the interior sector. He was particularly focused on drumming up public support for the Full Disclosure Policy (FDP), an instrument that he hoped would advance transparency and accountability in local governance.

The FDP, the crown jewel of Robredo's work in local governance, requires LGUs to disclose in public places 12 key financial documents that show how funds are spent. As of June 2012, 1,697 or 99% of LGUs have complied with the policy. This is validated by latest Pulse Asia and Social Weather Stations surveys that showed more Filipinos now observe transparency and accountability in their localities.

The FDP is a requirement in the conferment of the "Seal of Good Housekeeping," which is awarded to LGUs every year. The Seal rewards honesty and excellence in local governance. As of June 2012, 856 LGUs that have qualified for the Seal have been granted P1.1 billion from the Performance Challenge Fund-money spent for the poorest of the poor.

"Lagi ko pong sinabi na itinaas na natin ang antas o sukat ng paglilingkod. Hindi na sapat na tayo ay matino lamang. Hindi rin sapat na tayo at mahusay lamang. Hindi lahat ng matino ay mahusay, at lalo namang hindi lahat ng mahusay ay matino. Ang dapat ay matino at mahusay upang karapat dapat tayong pagkatiwalaan ng pera ng bayan," Robredo was fond of saying.

Last Aug. 17, Robredo wanted to start an advocacy campaign so that ordinary citizens would use the maximum benefits from the tool to demand good governance and transparency from their local leaders. He also gave instructions that illegal logging be stopped, and those involved be made accountable.

Robredo has also been tirelessly improving disaster risk reduction and mitigation capabilities of local government units across the country. He has introduced the Seal of Disaster Preparedness, another incentive mechanism to help LGUs deal with disasters and calamities. "The important thing here is reducing casualties to zero," he said.

As of the first semester, a total of 8,504 LGUs already have functional disaster management councils while 1,539 have command centers and alarm systems. They now have emergency response, rescue, and medical teams, and evacuation centers.

Having been a Mayor in Naga City for 19 years, Robredo was strict about ensuring that each LGU's business process licensing system (BPLS) is streamlined and highly effective. The Department committed to the US-based Millennium Challenge Corp. to streamline the BPLS of 120 LGUs in four years. As of June 2012, 748 LGUs have already streamlined their BPLS within a two-year period. This has raised revenue collection by as much as 7% in Lapu-Lapu City and 18% in Butuan City.

The latest National Competitiveness Survey results showed that 70% of businessmen respondents received permits in three days or less. In fact, 17% did so and less than two hours.

Robredo believed that measuring outcomes lead to improvement. He enhanced the Local Governance Performance Management System (LGPMS), a tool to measure LGU performance, by turning it into an assessment tool validated by third-party assessment. This is a departure from the old system of self-assessment.

Consolidated results of the LGPMS shows that there has been a consistent increase in the number of LGUs with high overall performance ratings, from 913 in 2009 to 1,050 in 2010, to 1,261 in 2011.

There has also been a 200% leap in the number of LGUs that allow civil society organizations, public organizations, the academe and religious groups to participate in local governance. A concrete example of this is the DILG's partnership with the Ugnayan ng mga Barangay at Simbahan (UBAS) to monitor LGU budgets and with Ateneo School of Government and De La Salle University's monitoring of public services in the local governments.

In the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao, Robredo was instrumental in the promotion of transparency and accountability among local governments through the Seal of Good Housekeeping. The DILG is also on top of the reform program in ARMM with funding of P8.59 billion.

In the interior sector, Robredo batted for a vision that every Filipino can walk the streets unafraid 24x7. In 2011, crime rate went down by 23.8%. Financial reforms in the Philippine National Policy also led to a 54% increase in the budget for field units to P1,000 per capital from P650. This means the police have more funds for uniform, shoes, bullets and other needs. Police visibility has also increased with the field deployment of 90% of the police force, as opposed to 85%, previously.

Through the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), the DILG initiated investigations and formally filed charges against individuals involved in spurious procurement contracts.

"Tatapatin ko po sa inyo, minsan mabigat sa dibdib ko ang gawaing ito. Subalit pag nakikita ko po yung ordinaryong pulis sa kaduluduluhang istasyon, sinasabi ko po sa aking sarili kailangan ko pong gawin ito para sa kanya. Ito na lang po ang kaniyang pag-asa at magsilbing huwaran din na dapat ang matuwid na daan ang syang dapat nating tahakin," Robredo told officials of the interior sector during his New Year's Call early this year.

He declared just last week that he intended to pursue all these reforms at whatever cost, to ensure that the "matuwid na daan" of the President is well lighted and easy to traverse for every citizen.

"Pinapangako ko po na marami pa tayong pakikinabangan sa mga repormang pinalakas natin sa DILG. Paiigtingin pa natin ang pagbabago sa lokal na pamahalaan at sa interior sector upang suportahan ang ginagawa nyo sa national. Sa tulog ng opisyal at kawani ng DILG, gagawin ko ang lahat ng aking makakaya para maabot natin ang pangarap ng isang bansang matuwid at maayos ang daan," he said in a statement he was supposed to deliver for his upcoming Commission on Appointments hearing on August 29.