December 5, 2006

Leddy Carino—elected to the board of the directors of the International Society for Third Sector Research (ISTR)

Filed under: What's New — Administrator @ 11:44 am
Congratulations! !!!
I am happy to inform you that our very own Leddy Carino  has been elected to the board of the directors of the International Society for Third Sector Research (ISTR) for a four-year term. This is the first time a Filipino has been a member of the board! Congratulations, LVC!
Also earlier,  Professor Liling Briones  has also been awarded by the citizens of Negros the Outstanding Negrense award! Congratulations, LMB!
Finally, our collective congratulations to CLRG – to Director Sammy and his team for a superb job in organizing the successful Local Government Leadership Awards Program. The culminating activity was held at the Senate last week  The fruits of their very hard work really were evident in the quality of the program, something that the local officials and Senator Pimentel, and other senators present  (including Senate President Villar, and Senators Roxas and Angara ) took note of. Congratulations again to the CLRG team!

Alex B. Brillantes

Leddy Carino—elected to the board of the directors of the International Society for Third Sector Research (ISTR)

Filed under: What's New — Administrator @ 11:42 am
Congratulations! !!!
I am happy to inform you that our very own Leddy Carino  has been elected to the board of the directors of the International Society for Third Sector Research (ISTR) for a four-year term. This is the first time a Filipino has been a member of the board! Congratulations, LVC!
Also earlier,  Professor Liling Briones  has also been awarded by the citizens of Negros the Outstanding Negrense award! Congratulations, LMB!
Finally, our collective congratulations to CLRG – to Director Sammy and his team for a superb job in organizing the successful Local Government Leadership Awards Program. The culminating activity was held at the Senate last week  The fruits of their very hard work really were evident in the quality of the program, something that the local officials and Senator Pimentel, and other senators present  (including Senate President Villar, and Senators Roxas and Angara ) took note of. Congratulations again to the CLRG team!

Alex B. Brillantes

November 20, 2006

17th Diliman Governance Forum

Filed under: What's New — Administrator @ 6:12 pm
As part of the commitment of the U.P. National College of Public Administration and Governance (UP NCPAG) to contribute to the continuing debate on burning development and governance issues in the country and in so doing, help educate the relevant publics - citizens, decision makers, academicians, media, and other stakeholders - on policy questions and concerns that matter to the nation, we are holding the 17th Diliman Governance Forum (DGF) on 24 November 2006, 12:30-5:00 p.m. at the Assembly Hall of UP NCPAG, Diliman, Quezon City. This forum is part of the GOP-UNDP Fostering Democratic Governance Programme.

Entitled “Shepherding Reforms in the Access to Justice and Participation of the Disadvantaged Sectors,” the 17th DGF generally aims to debate on the best ways to promote and institutionalize reforms in access to justice and participation of vulnerable sectors. Invited resource speakers include Supreme Court Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban, Atty. Marlon Manuel (of the Alternative Law Group, a non-government organization advocating alternative reforms in the justice system), and Dr. Ledivina V. Cariño (University Professor, UP NCPAG, who has recently done a study on the “Participation of the Disadvantaged Sectors in Policymaking” for UNDP New York).

In this connection, we are pleased to invite you and your representatives to this forum. More than your presence, your comments, suggestions and inputs will be very much appreciated and will be of great help in promoting and achieving a more improved system of participation by disadvantaged sectors and more accessible justice system in the Philippines.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call any of the following at telephone numbers 920-1353 or 925-4030 (Lita Sanchez), 928-3861 (Bing Perillo), 928-5411 (Nedy del Rosario), or send e-mail to pgf_dgf@yahoo. com. We hope that you will accept our invitation.

November 7, 2006

Ode to the ‘Barriotic’ Life

Filed under: What's New — Administrator @ 7:21 am
Liling Magtolis Briones

Prof. Leonor M. Briones Many Filipinos who live in Metro Manila and other urban centers are actually barrio people at heart. Most of them were born and grew up in barrios before they were sucked in by the metropolis. Peel away the layers of acquired sophistication, intellectual pretensions, political savvy and the carefully practiced city accent, and you end up with a barriotic!

After completing my bachelor’s degree at Silliman University, I left Dumaguete City in Negros Oriental for graduate studies at the University of the Philippines. Since then, I worked, got married, pursued a career, went into advocacy, had a grandchild—all in Manila and Quezon City. But Dumaguete has always been home. Now, it is also Valencia, a beautiful town at the foot of Mount Talinis, the highest peak in the province.

My house is beside a laughing, gurgling stream in a barrio called West Balabag. No, I am not in a subdivision. My nearest neighbors live in thatched huts with pigs rooting in mud holes, a few chickens clucking and scratching, some goats and maybe a cow mooing contentedly. What could be more barriotic?

Time is at a standstill in West Balabag. One can breakfast on boiled green bananas, salted fish and ripe papayas while listening to the sound of the river, watching birds chase each other among the fruit trees, and the butterflies flitting among the flowers.

The only serious decision that has to be made is what to eat for lunch!

Nothing tastes better than native chicken tinola with freshly picked green papaya and malunggay leaves. In West Balabag one can also eat freely from the bounty of the river and the hills surrounding the house—snails, small fish, ferns, breadfruit and the leaves of the wild bago tree. Who cares about soda when one can have buko (young coconut), calamansi and green mango juice straight from the tree?

One of the most delightful sounds of barriotic life is that of animals coming home for the night. The cackling chickens fly up to the highest branches of the trees just like their wild forest cousins. The goats bleat and call their kids home. And the cow wanders in, bellowing and chewing his cud.

Barriotics survive the city because in their hearts, they are never truly away from their barrios. The barriotic has to go home for the town fiesta, the provincial fiesta, All Saints’ Day, Christmas and just about every other holiday. He can only stand the city if he can go home. ‘Utang na loob’ and governance

Of all forms of media, television is the most cruel to public officials. Every blemish, extra ounce of fat, and facial defect is there for the world to see and analyze. Aha! Is the face rounder because of steroids? Is a double chin developing? Is the waistline and tummy thickening? Are the legs fatter?

Even more important, the shifty eyes, the averted glance, the stutter, the smirk and the false smile reveal the real public official. Most important, the blurted statement when caught off guard by an unexpected question reveals a public official’s values and philosophy of governance.

Last week a public official was quoted as complaining in righteous indignation against GMA appointees in the Supreme Court who voted against the “harebrained” Cha-cha proposal. The implication is that these appointees, especially the ponente , have no utang na loob , a dearly held Filipino value.

This administration official, and like-minded high officials, revealed to public media their bankrupt notion of governance as nothing more than personal loyalty. He was also earlier reported as explaining the nonrelease of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) to opposition congressmen. The justification was that they were critical of the President. It was as if the funds of the government belonged to the President! This inability to tell the difference between public funds and private funds is one reason why governance is in such a mess.

Utang na loob is expected with the grant of appointments, perks, contracts and countless favors.  Personal reciprocity is the name of the game in governance. If our leading officials think of governance as just personal utang na loob , then all notions of democracy, justice and equal opportunity are meaningless.

It does not mean, however, that utang na loob is bad for governance. It is one of our most beautiful and enduring values. However, utang na loob to the country which gave us life is higher than utang na loob to the official temporarily holding office. Utang na loob to the citizen who pays the officials’ salaries, puts up with their greed and plunder, and pays for all their harebrained policy mistakes should take precedence over debts of gratitude to the  temporary dispenser of favors.

Business Mirror , Vol. 2, Number 286, November 6, 2006

November 6, 2006

Managing the campus’s multifunctional space

Filed under: What's New — Administrator @ 7:12 am

by Alicor L. Panao

The UP Diliman campus is not simply a popular destination for those engaged in intellectual pursuits. Through the years, it has come to be known as a venue for a diverse range of activities, including political demonstrations, festivals, romantic dates, wedding pictorials, ghost hunting, recreation activities, weekend markets, public art, and even informal urban settlement. On any given day, one might see banners protesting the dismissal of contract janitorial personnel flying high against the pillars of Quezon Hall, UP’s seat of administration; a gaggle of tourists eagerly posing beneath the Oblation, the University’s iconic naked male statue; and groups of people having picnics, jogging, playing soccer, or simply sitting down to chat in and around the famous lagoon and Sunken Garden.

UP has become familiar ground, not just to its students, faculty, and staff, but to almost everyone. “And it is really very difficult to change this situation because it has evolved this way as a public land,” notes Dr. Primitivo Cal, Dean of the School of Urban and Regional Planning (SURP). How the campus space is being used for many other—not necessarily academic—purposes, according to Cal, is a perennial topic in university council meetings. “But, really, there is no unanimous view as to how it should be defined.”

Personally, Cal does not find anything wrong with some of the ways campus grounds have been utilized for extracurricular endeavors. Many activities, such as campus rallies, public discussions, public installation art, the Oblation Run, and even the annual University Fair usually have issues of national significance as themes. He considers all these part of education because they provide learning experiences that can never be taught inside the classroom. “How else would you impart life’s more important lessons to students?” he asks. “Community involvement is important to students in order for them to see early on that there are far greater goals than simply being, say, an engineer or a planner.”

Public Space
The campus’s multifunctional space has a lot to do with the rich culture and history of intellectual exchange that has become synonymous with the University and its graduates. Classrooms, lectures halls, and even the sprawling campus grounds have traditionally served as public spaces where people, regardless of religion, gender, or identity, engage freely and passionately in debates about the most pressing and controversial issues. For instance, the imposing steps fronting the Palma Hall lobby, a popular venue for mass mobilization, teach-ins, and rallies at the height of student activism in the ’60s and ’70s, continue to serve the same functions today.

But public spaces inside the campus also accommodate many other activities. The Palma Hall steps also serve as a tambayan, concert venue, and a favorite spot for TV news crews covering UP events. The University’s Academic Oval, which often plays host to protest marches and arts-related activities, is a convenient route for the much-anticipated Lantern Parade during the Christmas season. The Sunken Garden, a favorite venue for the annual UP Fair, also provides ample space for sports tournaments and outdoor concerts. Inside the campus’s park-like surroundings are pockets which serve as cozy spaces for studying or relaxing alone, or for intimate gatherings. Even comfort rooms inside academic buildings provide a place to sleep, chat, or study in between classes.

With its concert halls, theaters, museums, sports facilities, and landscaped grounds, the campus is a hub of activities catering not only to students and staff, but to the larger population of Quezon City and Metro Manila. The popularity of the campus with the public also impacts nearby areas, encouraging commercial development in surrounding streets and making campus-adjacent areas attractive places to live.

Security risks
In drawing crowds, the campus is also exposed to security risks. “We know that UP Diliman is a community and that some of its members do not necessarily serve its academic mandate,” says Cal. “The campus has neither walls nor fences. Some of its roads serve as public thoroughfares to reach adjacent areas. It is really very difficult to bar entry.”

Cal’s worries are compounded by reports of untoward incidents taking place in the campus and its peripheries. The campus is not new to crime, both petty and serious, and such occurrences are often fodder for print and broadcast police stories.

According to the UP Diliman UPDate, several cases (other than fraternity-related incidents) were extensively covered by the media in recent years, including the kidnap for ransom incident in front of the College of Law, the discovery of the body of a graduating AMA student at the Palma Hall parking lot, and the assassination of labor leader Popoy Lagman by hired gunmen at the driveway of Ang Bahay ng Alumni. In 2003 alone, the UP Diliman Police blotter contained 420 reported incidents, more than half of which involved theft and robbery. Authorities suggest that the actual number of incidents may actually be higher since some crimes are not reported to the police.

Moreover, a considerable portion of the University’s valuable but undeveloped and unprotected properties have been invaded by illegal settlers and squatting syndicates. The very encroachment of illegal settlers, says Cal, already goes against the principle of planning. “Just because we are government land does not mean we can just open ourselves to informal settlers. They are not part of the plan for which the University’s property was intended,” he points out.

In urban planning, a contingency that is not within the scope of an original plan is usually met with some sort of a stop gap or control mechanism. “In this case, for instance, it is important for the University to assert that some of our space is reserved for very specific purposes,” Cal says.
But is UP equipped with mechanisms for enforcement? “Such mechanisms do exist today,” says Cal.  Apparently they didn’t always exist.

UP Diliman has actually taken bold measures to contain the growing number of informal settlers in its property with the adoption of the “UPD Policy on Squatters on Campus” last year. The policy statement follows four basic guidelines in dealing with the issue: “1) that demolitions (of illegal structures) be accepted, if not supported, by the academic community as a politically correct option given the result of decades of ambivalence; 2) that these be conducted in the most humane manner possible; 3) that we rule out relocation, on site development and other negotiating stances that alienate land and violate the UP Charter; and 4) that there be planning done to remove the academic core from security agencies’ primary responsibility by exploring the option of developing auxiliary security brigades/building aides attached to the colleges/units and re-engineering the UP Diliman Police (UPDP) so that eventually, the agencies guard the access gates, the peripheral areas and only secondarily, the academic core.”

Regarding the issue of UP’s illegal settlers, however, Cal thinks campus planning should also take into account the following realities—that squatters have already settled on some portions of UP property; that something has to be done; and that the brightest solution may not necessarily mean driving them all away. Nevertheless, he maintains that it is really important for the University to assert its boundaries. He has no qualms about fencing the perimeter of the close to 500-hectare campus, should resources be available. “We can do it on an incremental basis by which fencing would be part of separate small-scale projects. If it is possible for us to delineate our property this way, I don’t see any reason why we should not.”

Dr. Ebinezer Florano, who teaches environmental management at the National College of Public Administration and Governance (NCPAG), is also in favor of putting up fences around the campus. “A good administrator would always put the interests of students, staff and faculty members above anything else,” says Florano. “The fact that we cannot regulate who comes in and out of our space makes the entire campus an administrator’ s nightmare.”

Sanctioned tolerance
Rallies provide a good example of how relatively easy it is for people to move in and out of the campus. Quezon Hall, for example, is becoming a favorite converging point among political organizations, neighboring urban poor communities, workers, and various other interest groups who have little or nothing to do with the University, during mass actions about issues that may not even concern the University or its officials.

On August 8, for instance, protesters comprising members of the UP Janitors Association (JSA) and their sympathizers formed a picket on the south wing area of Quezon Hall when Care Best International (CBI) was awarded the contract to perform janitorial services for the south sector of the campus. The protesters kept their vigil for several days hoping to make the University intervene and compel the new agency to absorb displaced workers from the previous agency despite the fact that no employer-employee relationship actually exists between UP and the employees of any of the subcontracting agencies. The University adopted a policy of contracting out janitorial and security services since 1984 in compliance with the procurement provisions of RA 9184 (An Act Providing for the Modernization, Standardization and Regulation of Procurement Activities of the Government). Since then, all janitorial services have been rendered by private agencies which compete as independent contractors in a public bidding.

The vigil, which lasted for several days, failed to disrupt the daily operation of Quezon Hall offices but raised obvious security and administrative concerns. Quezon Hall looked no different from an evacuation shelter with the protesters, their families and sympathizers, cooking, dining, sleeping, drying their clothes, and literally cleaning themselves in the picket site.
This indicates, according to Florano, that the University’s image as a bastion of academic freedom and activism is both a blessing and a curse that the UP community has had to accept. But even though he sees no reason for the administration to completely regulate such use of the University’s public space, he believes it will be in everybody’s interest if the campus administrators would be informed of these activities beforehand. This would make it easier for the latter to provide the necessary security for both participants and ordinary bystanders. “Those who now run our campuses were themselves immersed in UP’s activist tradition so I don’t think they will be allergic to such causes,” he says.

Actually, a number of security measures have long been put in place to address these concerns. Memorandum No. 18 issued by former UP President Edgardo J. Angara in 1983 states that “rallies and demos may be held within the University’s premises with no need for a permit from the City/Town Mayor.” But the same memo also specifies that “the University’s own rules and regulations” would govern these activities. The standing policy, based on a July 25, 2003 memorandum issued by then Chancellor Emerlinda Roman, is that “rallies, demonstrations, vigils and other similar activities may be allowed only with written permission of the Vice Chancellor for Community Affairs.” These activities cannot go beyond six in the evening.

According to Florano, administrative sanctions may sometimes be necessary not only to avert vandalism and anarchy, but also to minimize the impact of disruptions on other activities. A lightning assembly blocking major roads in the Diliman campus, for instance, could easily paralyze the flow of jeepneys plying the Pantranco and Philcoa route. Florano maintains that people should consider everyone’s welfare regardless of where they sit in the intellectual divide. “In Japan, for instance, you cannot just hold rallies whenever or wherever you feel like it,” he says.

The Japanese people, according to Florano, learn early to recognize that they are part of an interdependent society and normally think twice about causing inconvenience especially to spaces deemed public. By contrast, we Filipinos are more aggressive in asserting our individual rights, says Florano, “and public spaces—like those in public universities— are being used as venues for these expressions.”

Symbolic identity
Florano believes that the University as an academic institution is not mandated to serve as a venue for non-academic activities. “But if we are to keep our healthy democratic tradition, the University has to accommodate these activities or we will not be living up to our name as a university of the people.” The significant public role the campus plays is representative of the larger purpose the University serves for the country. The campus is a park. It is a cultural center and meeting place. And more importantly, it is a symbol of academic excellence, civic pride, and the rich and lasting heritage shared by generations of UP alumni. The landscape, the buildings, and the events that take place in these spaces all form part of the collective memory of the institution.

Like Florano, Cal favors the free _expression of sentiments, even if the makeshift encampments and protest banners in halls and lobbies can be an eyesore.
“I think these activities should be allowed if they do not violate any law or do not go beyond the basic rights provided in the constitution,” says Cal. “They should be properly recognized, especially in an academic community.”

This article appeared on the September-October 2006 issue of the U.P. Forum.
Dr. Ebinezer Florano is an Assistant Professor at the UP-NCPAG. You may reach him at eflorano@hotmail.com or ebinezer.florano@up.edu.ph

October 22, 2006

Fiscal decentralization and the alternative budget

Filed under: What's New — Administrator @ 12:59 pm
Boiled Green Bananas
Liling Magtolis Briones

Prof. Leonor M. BrionesLast week, the eyes of the nation were riveted on Makati where a tense drama between national authorities and city officials took place. The mayor of Makati, the vice mayor and all the councilors were suspended by the executive secretary upon recommendation of the Department of Interior and Local Government for harboring “ghost employees.” Mayor Jejomar Binay responded by filing a request for a temporary restraining order (TRO) with the Court of Appeals.

Only the issuance of a TRO brought a collective sigh of relief from citizens who watched as the drama was played out in media.

Ironically, these events took place in the month of October, which happens to be the 15th anniversary month of the Local Government Code of 1991 in the Philippines. The Code enshrines local autonomy as the bedrock of democracy and the basic building block for national development.

While Makati City Hall was surrounded by both policemen and thousands of Binay supporters, another event was peacefully taking place at the Center for Local and Regional Governance (CLRG) of the UP National College of Public Administration and Governance (NCPAG). “Fifteen Years of Decentralization in the Philippines: Lessons Learned and the Way Forward,” was the main theme in the 15th Diliman Governance Forum. The forum was supported by the United Nations Development Program.

The forum discussed issues related to decentralization, e.g. fiscal decentralization, as well as the decentralization of health, agriculture and social welfare. As reactor to the presentation of Director Norberto G. Malvar of the Bureau of Local Government Finance, this column pointed out challenges to local fiscal autonomy. The most difficult of these is continued financial dependency on the national government.

Local governments receive a share of internal revenue taxes, which are collected by the government. This is guaranteed in the Constitution and reinforced by the Local Government Code and Supreme Court decisions. The objective is to ensure financial independence for local government units (LGUs) and protect them from political pressure.

After 15 years of fiscal decentralization, LGUs remain hooked to their internal revenue allotments in spite of massive levels of capacity building, admonitions and nagging from the donor community. The national aggregates don’t reflect it but dependency of one low income LGU reached a high of 99 percent. It is not unusual for an LGU to be dependent on IRA for 80 percent to 90 percent of its budget.

To make matters worse, LGUs usually “hock” or utilize their IRA as guarantee for their loans. Thus, a municipality which has been praised for collecting user fees for health services is hard-pressed to pay its employees because its IRA has been taken over by a lending bank.

The proposed 2007 budget is allocating P193 billion as assistance to LGUs. This includes P183.9 billion for IRA and P3.5 billion as premium subsidy for indigents. With such a bonanza who wants to collect real property taxes, impose user fees and be financially independent? Fiscal dependency makes LGUs vulnerable to pressure and intervention from the national government.

Enter the alternative budget

In many parts of the world, citizens are increasingly dissatisfied with the budgets, which are crafted by the executive and passed into law by the legislature. The huge metropolis of Porto Alegre in Brazil started it all with its concept of “participatory budgeting.” Brazilian citizens groups actively participate and contribute to the budget process.

In Italy, a large network of civil-society organizations are closely monitoring budgets. In far off Benin, in Africa, citizens, led by women’s organizations, are also monitoring their country’s budget. All over Asia and Europe citizens are forming different versions of “Budget Watch.”

The call for alternative budgets in the Philippines started much earlier than Porto Alegre. It started long before the Copenhagen Summit in 1996 and the Millennium Declaration in 2000. After years of research and hard work, awareness building and campaigns, civil society organizations under the leadership of Social Watch Philippines and concerned legislators jointly proposed alternative budgets for MDGs in education, health, agriculture and the environment.

During the plenary session on the national budget, the Joint NGO-Legislative Initiative proposal was presented by Rep. Teofisto Guingona III. An additional P22.7 allocation was proposed for 2007 to be funded from intelligence funds, and P30.5 billion from the unprogrammed funds of the President which are not covered by special provisions.

The proponents are asking for P8.5 billion in additional allocations for the Department of Health, P6.2 billion for the Department of Education, P441 million for the Commission on Higher Education, P7 billion for the environment, and P4 billion for agriculture.

For the first time, civil-society organizations and legislators are not only critiquing the budget. They are also offering alternatives. From the House, the campaign will go to the Senate. Abangan na naman!


October 12, 2006

15th Diliman Governance Forum: Fifteen Years of Decentralization in the Philippines: Lessons Learned and the Way Forward

Filed under: What's New — Administrator @ 9:05 am

19 October 2006, Thursday,8:30 AM to 4:00 PM,
NCPAG Assembly Hall, 2nd Floor, NCPAG Building, UP Diliman

Dear All,
You are invited to attend the 15th Diliman Governance Forum, which is organized by the Center for Local and Regional Governance (CLRG) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), on October 19, 2006 from 8:30 AM to 4:00 PM, at the NCPAG Assembly Hall, 2nd Floor, NCPAG Building, UP Diliman. The 15th DGF aims to provide a venue to articulate and discuss the status of devolution in the country, and to contribute to the proposed comprehensive policy review of the Local Government Code of 1991. It will focus on the status of decentralization from the viewpoints of five national government agencies, with reactions from the civil society, local government units through the different leagues, media, and the academe.
Invited participants are officials and representatives from Congress, DILG, DA, DOH, DENR, DSWD, DPWH, DBM, DOF, COA, Leagues of LGUs, local officials, media, donor agencies, civil society, and practitioners and students of Public Administration.
Registration starts at 8:00 AM.
Hope to see you there!!!

October 10, 2006

16th DGF

Filed under: What's New — Administrator @ 2:03 pm

The National College of Public Administration, University of the Philippines (UP NCPAG) and the Fair Trade Alliance (FTA), both responsible partners of the GOP-UNDP Fostering Democratic Governance (FDG) Programme, will be holding the 16th Diliman Governance Forum (DGF) on “The Challenges and Prospects of Sustainable Mining in the Philippines” on 11 October 2006, 1:00-5:00 p.m. at the Assembly Hall, UP NCPAG, Diliman, Quezon City.

The Forum generally aims to contribute to the continuing debate on burning development and governance issues in the country and in so doing, help educate the relevant public- citizens, decision makers, academicians, media and other stakeholders- on policy questions and concerns that matter to the nation. The 16th DGF is particularly themed in recognition of the on- going discourses on the roles and prospects of the mining industry in economic and sustainable development.

In this connection, we are pleased to invite you to this forum. More than your presence, your comments, suggestions and inputs will be very much appreciated and will be of great help in promoting and achieving a more sustainable and pro- development and pro-people mining in the Philippines.

September 11, 2006

Call for Papers: Living the Information Society

Filed under: What's New — Administrator @ 4:56 am

The Impact of Information and Communication Technologies on People, Work and Communities in Asia Renaissance Hotel, Makati City, Philippines April 23-24, 2007 read details

Guinsaugon tragedy: Issues and prescriptions

Filed under: What's New — Administrator @ 4:50 am
by Dr. Francisco G. Delfin Jr.
After the Guinsaugon landslide on February 17 last year, the Geological Society of the Philippines (GSP), together with the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa), the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) and UP National Institute of Geological Sciences (UP-NIGS) held a colloquium to formulate policy prescriptions for reducing similar events in the future. The policy issues and recommendations presented here synthesized those identified by colloquium presenters, panel discussants, colloquium audience, and key informants interviewed by the author for an on-going research on disaster governance. The simple proposal of banning human settlements in landslide-prone areas to prevent future Guinsaugons neglects many political, organizational, and technical constraints. These issues categorized into two broad topics— risk analysis and mitigation and preparedness and warning— complicate such ideal policy prescription.

Risk analysis and mitigation Why government data on hazards are not effectively and promptly communicated to concerned communities and decision-makers constitute the first issue. For landslides, MGB’s geohazard maps are crucial but production of these maps is beset by two major problems. First, government agencies use different scales and geographic information systems (GIS) making data integration difficult. For instance, Phivolcs’ seismic risk analysis and Pagasa’s rainfall data are important input to MGB’s landslide-hazard maps but these agencies employ different mapmaking frameworks. Thus, Namria’s publication of integrated hazard maps and their distribution to communities are delayed. In addition, many of the country’s maps lack accurate political boundaries. The following suggestions address these weaknesses:

• Namria must impose a standard GIS vehicle to all national hazards-related agencies.
• It should ensure that hazard maps contain accurate boundaries of barangays, towns, cities, and provinces to make geohazards more compelling to local authorities.
• Hazards-related public agencies should post their outputs on their websites for free public access. Another limiting factor in the supply of geohazard knowledge is the loss of MGB and academe geologists to the booming minerals industry. Despite this, DENR’s productivity on geohazards can be sustained if
• DENR reorganizes the MGB to establish a permanent unit solely for geohazards.
• MGB pursues collaboration with international agencies to augment local manpower and resources.
• MGB’s geohazards functions are spun off to a separate research agency a la US Geological Survey while MGB becomes a purely regulatory agency on mining.

For successful disaster mitigation, local authorities’ risk mitigation capacity must be enhanced. LGUs’ chief obstacle in strengthening mitigation capabilities is the use of their local calamity fund (LCF) for pre-disaster activities. A DBM-DILG joint 2003 memo allowing LCF use for pre-disaster projects is ignored by COA and many LGUs because it violates RA 7160 and RA 8185 requiring a declaration of state calamity for LCF use. Even if permitted, the LCFs (5% of annual LGU revenues) can be a viable risk-mitigation fund for wealthy LGUs but not for poor communities. The following proposals address these limitations:

• LGUs should package their risk-mitigation projects as developmental activities to tap their 20% developmental fund.
• DILG’s Local Government Academy must provide more training for LGUs on risk management.
• LGUs should emulate Albay province in establishing a permanent provincial disaster management office to institutionalize disaster activities and accountability at the local level.

Preparedness and warning The causes of landslides are site-specific but for rain-induced landslides—Cherry Hills (1999), Infanta (2004) and Guinsaugon (2006)—the cumulative 3-10 days antecedent rainfall exceeding monthly totals are critical. Hence, an effective warning system for landslides requires timely and wide coverage of rainfall data collection. Pagasa’s 56 synoptic and 28 agro-meteorological stations are insufficient relative to our 115 cities and nearly 1,500 municipalities. Rainfall data must be also be transmitted rapidly to decision-makers to provide ample warning to communities. Suggestions for dealing with these constraints include:

• Pagasa and DILG must establish at least one rainfall station for each municipality and city in the country.
• Pagasa and DILG should request the major phone companies for special SMS lines that can be used for sending rainfall information and receiving warning advisories.
• Pagasa’s capability for extreme-weather forecasts with 5-10 days lead time needs to be enhanced. Warning may save lives especially if affected populations are better prepared for rapid on-set hazards such as landslides, earthquakes and tsunamis. Efforts to strengthen our disaster-preparedne ss capacity, building on communities’ voluntary spirit and the government’s coercive authority, ought to consider the following:
• LGUs must identify and prepare safe evacuation sites for rapid on-set calamities in their jurisdictions.
• OCD and LGUs should ratchet up the frequency and coverage of evacuation drills for flashfloods, tsunamis, and earthquakes till disaster preparedness becomes part of the national consciousness.
• Preparedness should ultimately be cultivated at the household-level through emphasis on families’ acquiring basic life support skills, storing emergency kits, knowing designated evacuation sites.

Dr. Francisco G. Delfin Jr. teaches Public Policy at the University of the Philippines’ College of  Public Administration and Governance. from http://www.manilatimes.net/national/2006/sept/08/yehey/opinion/20060908opi6.html with correction on Dr. Delfin’s affiliation.
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