What You Need to Know About Your LGU

 

LGU levels1. What is a local government unit (LGU)?

It is the part of the government closest to the people and is in charge of delivering basic services and facilities to its constituents.

LGUs have four classifications: the barangays (villages), municipalities, cities and provinces, and the autonomous regions (although there is only one existing, the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao). They are considered independent from the national government: each LGU has the right and the power to regulate its affairs—political, economic, social, and administrative—in its given territory, consistent with the national policies.

 

2. Who are my elected LGU officials?

Elected in office for 3 yearsThey are the barangay chairman, also known as the punong barangay; mayors and vice mayors for both municipalities and cities; governors and vice governors. They are the ones which head the executive department of their respective LGU.

The citizens also vote for their representatives to the Sanggunian or the council, the legislative branch of the LGU. These are called Board Members at the provincial level, and councilors from the city and municipality to the barangay level. 


3. How long do they stay in office? 

They stay for a term of three years.


4. What is the role of my Local Chief Executive?

The Local Chief Executive -- the Governor, the Mayor or the Barangay Chairperson -- leads the daily operations of the LGU. She/he must enforce all laws and ordinances, maintain public order, formulate development plans for the corresponding territories, and represent her/his respective LGU in all transactions.

Section 22 of the Republic Act 7160, also known as the Local Government Code of 1991, allows the Local Chief Executive to enter into contracts even without approval of the Sanggunian. She/he is, however, obliged to post a copy of the contract in a conspicuous place of the LGU.


5. What is the role of the Sanggunian?

It is the legislative body of the LGU. It is responsible in enacting and reviewing ordinances, approving resolutions, and planning the economic growth of the LGU, among other tasks.

It is composed of representatives from each legislative district, from the provincial down to the municipal level. The number of Sanggunian representatives varies according to the LGU’s charter or its number of districts. The Vice Governor or Vice Mayor heads the Sanggunian once it convenes.

The Sangguniang Pambarangay (Barangay Council) is elected at large and has seven members.


6. Who are my appointed local officials?

They are those who assume equally important roles in managing the LGU, particularly its funds and resources. They are the local treasurer, budget officer, assessor, planning and development officer, engineer, health officer, and civil registrar for each LGU. 

The provincial or city LGU also has the administrator, legal officer, veterinarian, social welfare and development officer, and general services officer. The provincial LGU also appoints an agriculturist.

 
7. Who conducts my LGU’s procurement activities?

The Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) does. It monitors procurement of the LGU, qualifies contractors, manages the biddings, evaluates bids, and recommends to the Local Chief Executive the awarding of contracts.

The Local Chief Executive appoints five to seven members to the BAC representing different offices within the LGU such as the administrator’s office, budget, legal, general services, and engineering offices; plus a representative of the citizens, usually coming from the civil society. They elect among themselves the chairman and the vice-chairman of the committee. All members, except for the citizen representative, should be occupying permanent positions in the LGU.


LGU services and facilities8. What basic services should my LGU provide me with? 

It is the job of your LGU to raise funds and revenues and at the same time protect the welfare of citizens by delivering basic services like health, education, social welfare, livelihood, and infrastructure. Your LGU should also enforce law and order and protect the people from external threats, whether natural or man-made.

 

9. What facilities should my LGU provide me with?

These include schools, health centers, hospitals, livelihood and technology centers, markets, cemeteries, library; and infrastructures like gymnasiums, multi-purpose halls, ports, water supply and sewerage systems.

Of course, all these will depend on the classification, capacity and financial status of your LGU. 

10. When should the LGU enact a budget?

The Local Chief Executive and concerned departments start to draft the budget on July 15, and submit it to the Sanggunian on or before October 15, which should approve it before end of the year.

You can ask for a copy of the approved budget at the Sanggunian office. 

 

11. What happens when the Sanggunian fails to pass the budget?

The Sanggunian sometimes fails to enact the budget due to circumstances like a calamity or political differences. When this happens, the budget of the preceding year is automatically reenacted within the first 90 days of the current fiscal year.

 

12. I want to know more about my LGU’s income and expenditures. Where should I go? 

You should easily find your LGU’s itemized monthly collections and disbursements in its website and in visible areas of its main building, the plaza, main street, and in other conspicuous places within the LGU’s territory. These should be posted within 10 days after the end of each month and be visible in the said locations for at least two weeks.

You might as well want to check the website of the Bureau of Local Government Finance (BLGF), the agency under the Department of the Interior and the Local Government (DILG) that supervises LGUs’ financial activities. 

 

13. What happens when my LGU fails to publicly post its financial documents?

The Local Government Code is strict when it comes to your LGU’s transparency on fiscal matters. Section 513 says the Local Treasurer or Chief Accountant can be held liable for failing to post the LGU’s budget and expenditure. While the law imposes only PhP 500 (EURO 8) fine for violation, the erring official can be imprisoned for a maximum of one month.

 

14. What are my LGU’s other sources of income?

Apart from the staple income from tax revenues and different income-generating projects such as livelihood and lending programs, an LGU can also receive pork barrel allocation from legislators. 

Also check our research on LGU incomes to know more.

 

15. What is pork barrel?

In Philippine politics, pork barrel refers to government funds which politicians use to fund pet projects for their personal and political gain.  

Pork barrel comes in the form of discretionary and lump sum appropriations which the President, Senators and Congressmen allocate for their favored districts and localities – or lately, fake NGOs. Pork barrel includes the Priority Development Assistance Fund under the legislators and the President’s ‘unprogrammed’ funds. 

 

16. Can my LGU receive pork barrel from a lawmaker? 

Yes. Even though PDAF has already been abolished, lawmakers can still allocate pork barrel to their preferred LGU by appropriating it during deliberation of the national budget. Sen.  Jinggoy Estrada, for example, realigned PhP 100 million (EURO 1.6 million) of his PDAF for 2014 to the City of Manila, where his father, former President Joseph Estrada, is incumbent mayor.

Your LGU’s financial statements should reflect any pork barrel allocation. 

 

17. Can an LGU official have his or her own pork barrel?

Yes, and he/she usually allocates this to ‘typical’ pet projects such as medical assistance, scholarship, and infrastructure. But regulations and studies on the extent of such fund among LGUs are still lacking.

It is important for citizens like you to check whether such fund is included in your LGU’s budget and ensure, if there is, that it is used to benefit your community. 

 

18.What can I do if I find out that my LGU is misusing funds? 

File a complaint. But before doing so, ask yourself first: did your LGU use public funds for their private gain? Did the LGU spend more than it should? What laws did it violate?

Answers to these questions will help you assess the extent of your LGU’s misuse of public funds. From there, you will be able to know what to complain about. 

 

19.What data do I need to investigate corruption in my LGU?

Monthly or quarterly financial reports, audit reports, bidding documents, or contracts which your LGU entered into are very useful.

And so are the statement of assets, liabilities, and net worth (SALN) of LGU officials or employees. These will tell whether their lifestyle is logical to their declared SALN. Most often, allegation of corruption sparks when a public servant seems to live way beyond what his income could support. 

Documents such as land titles, corporate records, records of election expenditures, tax returns are also useful in your investigation. 

 

20. Where can I file my complaint?

You can file it before the Office of the Ombudsman or the Commission on Audit

Complaints filed before the Office of the Ombudsman cover illegal, unjust, or inefficient acts of a public official or employee. A complaint can be subject to criminal or administrative proceedings.

Complaints filed before the COA include acts of fraud, waste, abuse, or misuse of public funds.

 

21. Do these agencies accept complaints from anonymous sources?

Yes. Both agencies recognize the potential dangers a complainant can face once he or she goes public. But they scrutinize the complaints and look for strong evidence first to back these up. 

 

22. Can I file my complaint on alleged public misuse of funds online?

Yes. Thanks to new technology, filing complaints against your erring LGU is right at your fingertips. When doing so before the Office of the Ombudsman, just go to its Online Filing Page and fill up the online complaint form. Keep in mind, though, that online submission of the complaint is just the first step. You should go to the Office of the Ombudsman in your region to confirm your complaint and submit evidence.

COA likewise accepts online complaints through its Citizens’ Desk

Remember that while online submission is encouraged, nothing beats actual filing and follow-up of your complaint through visit or phone call to the agency for quick action. 


   Office of the Ombudsman

   Hotline:  (02) 9262-OMB (662); 
                 0926 699 4703 

   Luzon:  (02) 479-7300  
   Visayas:  (032) 255-0976 
   Mindanao:  (082) 221-3431

  
  Commission on Audit

  Hotline:  0915-5391957 
  Central Office:  (02) 952-5700
   Online Directory of regional offices


23. What legal rights do I have to access information from my LGU?

Although the freedom of information (FOI) bill has long been stalled in Congress, the 1987 Constitution guarantees us, the people, our right to information.

Article 3, Section 7 of the Bill of Rights of the Constitution says: “The right of the people to information on matters of public concern shall be recognized. Access to official records, and to documents and papers pertaining to official acts, transactions, or decisions, as well as to government research data used as basis for policy development, shall be afforded the citizen, subject to such limitations as may be provided by law.”

This recognizes each Filipino’s right to information on matters of public concern and grants a citizen an access to official records and documents, including research data that were used for policy development.

 

24. Is there a law that compels a civil servant to make public documents accessible?

Yes. Section 5e of the Republic Act 6713 also known as the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees compels government employees to make documents accessible to the public and should be ready for inspection anytime by concerned citizens. Data for inspection include the SALN.

Rule IV, Section 2 of the said law’s Implementing Rules and Regulations also urges government agencies to adopt an information system to make transactions more transparent and open to the public. You can quote these legal provisions in your letter to assert your right to information.

 

25.What can I do if my LGU refuses to give out information?

You can always file a complaint before the Office of the Ombudsman or the Civil Service Commission when this happens. Take note that RA 6713 penalizes any public official or employee who refuses to give out the information he or she is required to. One can be charged with a fine of up to six months’ worth of salary, suspension of up to one year, or even removal from office. 

Remind your LGU official or employee of the consequences if he or she still refuses to provide public information. Sometimes, this reminder results to the access of data, experience shows.

 

 Click here to download CANA Citizen's Primer.


Sources:
Local Government Code of 1991
1987 Philippine Constitution
Revised Implementing Rules and Regulations of Republic Act 9184 (Government Procurement Reform Act) 
Office of the Ombudsman
Commission on Audit
“Investigating Corruption: A Do-It-Yourself Guide” by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism