IMPLEMENTING PARTNER: Surigao Economic Development Foundation
GRANT AMOUNT: $29,648
THEMES: Local Governance
This sub-project sought to make the Philippines Department of Budget and Management’s Handbook on Civil Society Organizations Participation in the Budgeting Process more accessible to citizens by transforming it into an illustrated (comics format) version. The handbook served as practical guide for local government and CSOs/citizen collaboration in the preparation of LGU budget in Surigao City.
While CSO participation is already evident in planning and most aspects of local governance in Surigao City, there is, however, a relatively small degree of participation in the budget process. The level of participation of CSOs in the budget process is only limited to the workshops conducted during the formulation of the City Development Plan and the review and approval of the AIP. Thus, the implementation of the “DBM Handbook on Civil Society Organizations Participation in the Budgeting Process thru a Tripartite Approach in Participatory Governance in Surigao City”, aims to finally institute a meaningful citizens participation in the crafting of the city’s annual budget. During the project implementation period, the following strategies were adopted to accomplish the objectives of this sub-project:
The DBM handbook translated into vernacular with matching illustrations facilitated popular dissemination and understanding at the level of the community. The use of the vernacular-illustrated Handbook (comic format) greatly aided in the popular dissemination, understanding and use of the handbook by the citizens.
The very project was in itself a Social Accountability process because it involved the constructive engagement of private citizens to check and monitor the performance of the local government units in areas like service delivery, public accountability and the budgeting process in the local government unit, with the aim of delivering better services, improving people’s welfare and protecting the people’s rights. The SEDFI established citizens’ support by organizing a consortium among CSOs, and training these CSOs for better appreciation of constructive engagements as well as increasing their level of awareness on local government processes. Consultation meetings and orientations with the CSOs, business sector and city and barangay officials facilitated a deepened understanding of the objectives and benefits of the project and promoted social acceptability among the members of the community.
The project successfully piloted the handbook though limited to two budget phases. It was able to effect legislative support like the City Resolution adopting the handbook, Barangay Resolution Establishing the Participatory Budgeting and Executive Order for the membership of the (3) CSOs in the LFC as Expanded members, that would possibly sustain the Citizen Engagement in the budget process.
The project successfully localized the handbook in the local dialect and, elicited recognition from the CSOs/citizen of the Pilot Barangays as a good material in understanding the local budget process and the guidelines in engaging the process with their LGUs.
Generally, the project has caused significant changes in the budget process of the Pilot LGUs, for the CSOs are actually participating in their Preparation and Authorization of the 2016 Annual Budget and, LGUs had recognized the importance of the CSOs involvement in the process.
With the project, SEDFI and its Partner CSOs have broadened their understanding on the budget process and the importance of community participation in the process to bring about greater transparency and accountability in the budget.
For a duration of (15) months in the implementation of the project, the following are the major lessons of experienced perceived not only by the project proponent but also by project partners, the CSO network and Pilot LGUs:
- LGU’s budgeting would become more transparent and receptive to the community’s priorities if there are CSO/Citizen involved in the process.
- For a quality participation of the CSO in the budget process, the CSO must be capacitated of the process and other related concerns and issues.
- CSOs must preserve the Non-Partisan Identity and serve as Guardians for Community Development rather than “Fault Finders”.
- To make the engagement of both parties, LGU and CSO, in the budget process, there should be a Genuine Partnership established among them.
- To sustain citizen engagement in the budget process, there should be an ordinance and the CSOs must be organized and actively involved in the local governance.