The Department of the Interior and Local Government – Caraga Region (DILG XIII) oriented the 5 Caraga provinces and the highly-urbanized Butuan City on the Seal of Good Local Governance (SGLG) during the series of Local Poverty Reduction Action Plan (LPRAP) Provincial Validation activities from January 29 to February 11, 2014 and reiterated by a speaker from the DILG Central Office during the LGU Summit organized by the Land Bank of the Philippines last February 21, 2014 at Almont Inland Resort, Butuan City.

Officially launched last January 15, 2014 at the Philippine International Convention Center, the SGLG replaces the Seal of Good Housekeeping (SGH) in promoting transparency and accountability in local operations.

During its rollout in 2011, 77% of all provinces, cities and municipalities across the country were able to pass the SGH. And even after introducing another tier in the SGH making 2 categories—bronze and silver—in 2012, 84% of these Local Government Units (LGUs) still passed.  This high percentage was deemed indicative of the readiness of LGUs for greater challenges and thus, more stringent assessment.

Now, from only looking at good financial housekeeping, the SGLG will also look at disaster preparedness; social protection; business-friendliness and competitiveness; peace and order; and environmental management.

The financial aspect of the Seal of Good Housekeeping is now the “Good Financial Housekeeping” assessment area, one of six for the SGLG. This still looks at sustaining the practice of accountability and transparency through COA-compliant Financial Statements; compliance to Full Disclosure Policy; compliance to Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) standards; compliance to Philippine Government Electronic Procurement System (PhilGEPS); compliance to Anti-Red Tape Act, etc.

The SGLG also looks at “Disaster Preparedness” to prepare LGUs for the challenges by disasters; “Social Protection” to ensure LGUs are sensitive to the needs of vulnerable and marginalized sectors of the society like Women, Children, Indigenous People, and Persons with Disability; “Business-Friendliness and Competitiveness” to encourage investment and employment; “Peace and Order” to protect the constituents from threats to life and security; and “Environmental Management” to safeguard the integrity of the environment and, at the minimum, comply with the mandates of the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000.

However, LGUs are not expected to comply with all six assessment areas. In its 2014 implementation, SGLG will be applying a “3 plus 1” principle, meaning: an LGU needs to pass all the three core assessment areas (Good Financial Housekeeping, Social Protection and Disaster Preparedness) and at least one from the essential areas (Business-Friendliness and Competitiveness, Peace and Oder, and Environmental Management).

This was among the topics discussed during the LPRAP Provincial Validation activities in Butuan City, Surigao del Sur, Agusan del Sur, Agusan del Norte, Surigao del Norte and the Province of Dinagat Islands on January 29, 30, February 5, 7, 11 and 12, respectively, in each of these locations. During which, the DILG 13 also conferred the congratulatory letters of Secretary Mar Roxas for the SGH 2012 passers (74 obtaining silver ratings, and 2 receiving bronze ratings).

Like the SGH, the SGLG will be a requisite for LGUs to access funds from the national government through programs such as Payapa at Masaganang Payamanan (PAMANA), Grassroots Participatory Budgeting (GPB) which replaces Bottom-up Budgeting (BUB), Performance Challenge Fund (PCF); Sagana at Ligtas na Tubig para sa Lahat (SALINTUBIG); Special Local Road Fund (SLRF); etc. And as explained in the Land Bank-organized LGU summit, the SGLG will also be a requisite for the LGUs to be able to apply for loans from banks. (Don Manuelo O. Patrimonio, RIO-Designate, DILG XIII)

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