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PIA Press Release

Feature: The Promise of Hilal

Davao City (20 October) -- Hilal is an Arabic term for that very slight crescent moon which is first visible after a new moon. Among Muslims, the sighting of the hilal in the month of Ramadan marks the beginning of sacrifice. But it is also a time of celebration for renewal, forgiveness and greater resolve to improve.

Drawing from this inspiration, a select group of local governments and Civil Society Organizations in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao will be given recognition for extra-ordinary performance and good governance practices.

Formal recognition rites dubbed "The Promise of Hilal," will be held to honor them on October 20. It will be hosted by the Local Governance Support Program in ARMM (LGSPA), in cooperation with the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG-ARMM) and the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), who has partnered with the LGUs.

Recognition will be given to eighteen (18) honorees: seven (7) local governments for overall performance - Kapatagan and Wao in Lanao del Sur; Lamitan, Basilan; Panglima Estino, Sulu; Datu Paglas and Upi in Maguindanao; and Bongao in Tawi-Tawi; seven (7) local governments for specific good practices: Sultan Kudarat, Sultan Mastura, Kabuntalan, Datu Odin Sinsuat, Mamasapano, Southwestern Ligawasan Alliance of Municipalities (SLAM) in Maguindanao; Siasi, Sulu; and four (4) special citations to Civil Society Organizations: Bleye Kitab, Sindaw Ko Kalilintad, Kadtuntaya Foundation Inc, and the muslim religious leaders represented by the Assembly of the Da'rul Ifta.

"Recognition is a means of celebrating successes in capacity development for local governance in ARMM. It is a recognition and an affirmation of the achievements of these LGSPA partners," said Myn Garcia, LGSPA's field program manager.

The 7 Outstanding LGUs: "Guiding lights"

The efforts and contributions of the seven outstanding LGUs will be celebrated during the event as "guiding lights in the dark pathways of governance." This is so against what many see as the "stereotyped picture of gloom" in a region where the stories that come out are often about violence and corruption. Here's why these LGUs stand as shining examples:

For the town of Lamitan, the center of trade and commerce of the province of Basilan and once the target of mindless violence, its adoption of local agricultural development and environmental management approaches has redefined community participation in governance. Rising from the ashes of the past, the community of Lamitan set aside politics and promoted good governance instead. As a result, the people within the area nurture optimism within their hearts.

If the town of Lamitan is steadfast in promoting local agricultural development, the LGU of Panglima Estino, Sulu is also full force in protecting its threatened marine resources. This LGU aimed its sight on Coastal Resource Management supported by a campaign for the Solid Waste Management Program. However, for the campaign to be successful, the local government had to first redefine bureaucracy, and it meant overhauling the whole office by eliminating ghost employees. Now, Panglima Estino is more than proud for the sustainability in the area and for the fruits that they reap upon preserving their marine resources.

While the Local Government of Panglima Estino had cleared ghost employees in their agencies, the Municipality of Datu Paglas, on the other hand, had started changing the notion that government agencies are less efficient compared with corporate firms. By adopting the strategies employed by corporate entities in running their businesses and applying it to the whole operations of the local government, the Municipality of Datu Paglas yield breakthroughs that earned greater credibility for the LGU.

The municipal employees report for work punctually and perform their functions efficiently. In turn, such practices demonstrate the viral effect of efforts to professionalize LGU operations. Administrative and financial systems are computerized and internet access is readily available in the municipal hall. In the Sangguniang Bayan, SB members take turns to report and attend to the needs of constituents as an "officer of the day."

On the other hand, if Datu Paglas had made a big leap in making their agencies more efficient, in the municipality of Wao, Lanao del Sur, men and women work together to solve their problems and accomplish their goals. Focusing on gender sensitivity, the municipality of Wao had built House of Refuge for victims of Violence against Women and Children. Furthermore, the Municipality Mayor, Elvino Balicao Jr. had also identified economic aspect as one of the root causes to these abuses. And so livelihood programs were then raised to help out families and, in the long run, inculcate in them the values of gender sensitivity.

Another Lanao del Sur town also successfully hurdled a number of challenges. Kapatagan was once known as a "no man's land" but local leaders and citizens joined hands to rebuild their community from the ravages of conflict and demonstrate that peace is possible when this is willed.

The LGU of Upi in Maguindanao can't be left behind when it comes to development. Although away from public glare, Upi has demonstrated that it can generate local wealth through Local Enterprise Development by professionalizing itself and constructing social infrastructures for peace.

So does Bongao in Tawi-Tawi. By proving that through technology and adopting the classic rule of Honesty as the best policy, Bongao was able to generate funds and stand sufficient through good governance and people participation.

Through the stories of the seven LGUs, simple and practical examples can be drawn for replication and, hopefully, generate more concern, demand and commitment for good governance in ARMM.

The Promise of Hilal likens these LGUs and CSOs to the thin sickle light of the dark new moon. "Like the thin crescent light, these outstanding LGUs and CSOs demonstrate the beginning of triumph of commitment to public service against indifference in the face of obstacles," the LGSPA said.

"By holding up key partners and their work to the public eye, LGSPA hopes to encourage continuation of good governance initiatives in the autonomous region," said Garcia.

The crescent moon is faint at the beginning, but brightens from night to night as the crescent thickens. LGSPA believes these recognized local governments and Civil Society Organizations like the hilal will be the rising light that will grow and thicken into higher standards of service and leadership in ARMM.

LGSPA is a five-year capacity development program funded by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) in partnership with the Philippine Government through the ARMM Regional Government. The program worked with all ARMM provinces and municipalities including Marawi City to increase effectiveness in local governance by focusing on five key areas: leadership and management; service delivery; resource generation and management; participatory governance; and peacebuilding.

By the end of October, the five-year program will be completed. (LGUs) [top]

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