Strengthening the national development roadmap through an intensified national and local government connections is the direction of the visit of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Benjamin “Benhur” Abalos, Jr. in Iloilo City on January 18-19, 2023. This is in line with the role of the DILG in setting the LGUs towards the thrusts of the Department, in view of the 2023-2028 Philippine Development Plan.

A dialogue between SILG Abalos, Local Chief Executives and the Presidents of the Leagues of the Barangays in the region was arranged. Key national government agencies such as the Department of Health (DOH), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) were also invited to take part in the dialogue which focused on the agency’s thrust to improve economic strategies, social transformation, and peace and order of local government units.

Moreover, SILG Abalos set a meeting with the Regional Management Coordinating Council (RMCC) 6 composed of the DILG-LG Sector, PNP, BFP, BJMP and PNPTI to emphasize his peace and order agenda focusing on the government’s call to fight against illegal drugs, through the Department’s ‘Buhay Ingatan, Droga’y Ayawan’ or BIDA Program.

Various topics were discussed during these meetings of SILG Abalos such as the Mandanas-Garcia Ruling, updates on the campaign against illegal drugs, and the status of funds for the local government unit (LGU) projects.

SILG Abalos said that the Mandanas-Garcia Ruling will create a full devolution of powers and resources to the local government units by leaving to them the management and budget of basic services and facilities in their localities.

“It is foreseen that local services might be affected with the devolution. We will divide LGUs into four Capacity Performance Quadrant: 1) High Capacity and High Performing LGUs; 2) High Capacity and Low Performing LGUs; 3) Low Capacity and High Performing LGUs; and 4) Low Capacity and Low Performing LGUs. With these four quadrants, there could already be interventions. It is important that we should always be in touch in each and every governors and mayors to make sure there is continuity of services.” SILG Abalos said.

It was explained by DILG Undersecretary for Local Government Marlo L. Iringan that the classifying of the LGUs in Capacity Performance Quadrant is based on the result of the Seal of Good Local Governance (SGLG) in 2019-2020 and 2021-2022. This is the strategy to focus on the LGUs’ need for interventions coming from the national government agencies.

“We can be more specific on our targets and identification of the LGUs and naturally we will focus on the low capacity and low performance local government units. We will be working with the other national government agencies because sectoral agencies have more technical competencies than just the DILG.” Usec Iringan said.

The updates of the campaign against illegal drugs were presented in which the call for a courtesy resignation of the full colonels and generals were also further explained by SILG Abalos as one of the government’s efforts to cleanse the ranks of the police organization of those involved in illegal drugs. Likewise, there is an on-going investigation on all other high ranking officials in the government that were linked to illegal drugs since the previous administration.

“The police are supposed to be the ones to apprehend the drug lords. Importante talaga ang pagkakaisa ng mga police and likewise, malaking bagay din dito ang local government on the ground. Kaya nga ang sinabi ko, I want the help of the BADAC because this is the grassroots. They are the ones who are knowledgeable of the situation in their community.”

The funds of the LGUs for the unfinished projects in previous years was also one of the issues and concerns raised in which according to SILG Abalos, letter was already sent through the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) with the advice for the LGUs to return the funds. At present, all LGUs are encouraged and constantly reminded of the completion of the projects in order to avoid the same problem to occur.

In his visit, SILG Abalos took the opportunity to attend ceremonial turnovers of different DILG infrastructure projects under the Local Government Support Fund Programs – Support to the Barangay Development Program (LGSF-SBDP) and Financial Assistance to Local Government Units (LGSF-FALGU).

SILG Abalo’s visit is part of the present administration’s efforts to build a prosperous, inclusive, and resilient society for every Filipino, a resonating call embodied in Ambisyon Natin 2040.#