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The 2011 survey on local governance

/ 11:15 PM October 14, 2011

Here are a few highlights of “The 2011 Survey on Good Local Governance,” a new SWS publication released at the Oct. 10 conference celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Local Government Code.

It is based on a July 21-25, 2011 SWS survey of representative samples of 400 household heads each in Balance Luzon (i.e., outside the National Capital Region), Visayas and Mindanao, plus 300 specifically in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), or 1,500 in all.  It follows a Sept. 26-29, 2009 SWS national survey of 1,200 household heads on the same topic.

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The 2011 survey was supported by USAID through The Asia Foundation (TAF).  Its coverage and questionnaire resulted from collaborative efforts of SWS, TAF and the Department of the Interior and Local Government.  The exclusion of NCR and special focus on ARMM were per request of DILG.  The publication’s contents are SWS’ responsibility, and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID, the US government, TAF or DILG.

The people’s net satisfaction (percent satisfied minus percent dissatisfied) with the performance of their city/town governments has risen.  The change was largest in the Visayas, from a “moderate” +28 in 2009 to a “very good” +64 in 2011.  The Balance of Luzon’s “good” +48 in 2009 became a very good +65 in 2011.  Mindanao’s very good +53 in 2009 rose further to +60 in 2011.

Opinions about ARMM. Within ARMM, the residents themselves appear contented with the regional government’s performance; 63 percent are satisfied and 18 percent are dissatisfied, for a good net +45.

Elsewhere, however, the quality of ARMM governance does not have a good reputation.  Its net performance rating is near-zero or “neutral” among people in Balance Luzon and Mindanao (which is mostly non-ARMM), and is net -33, or “bad,” among Visayans.

Performance areas. In 2011, the typical city/town government rates “excellent” (net satisfaction of at least +70) in health center maintenance, and “very good” (net +50 to +69) in educational programs, processing permits and licenses, protecting the environment, promoting sports, public market maintenance, traffic management, street lighting, information on permits, licenses and taxes, and garbage collection.

It is “good” (net +30 to +49) in disaster preparedness, road/drainage repair, popular consultation, legal services, business promotion, tax collection, project monitoring, helping the poor, fighting crime, revenue development, farmer assistance, citizen participation, tourism promotion, and financial transparency.

Its rating is “moderate” (net +10 to +29) in: fighting drug addiction,  developing jobs, fighting illegal gambling, housing programs, and solving the squatter problem. It is “mediocre” (-9 to +9) in eradicating graft and corruption.

Local concerns. As to the single most important local problem, the most common answers are on the economy (36 percent), with the top specific answer being unemployment (22).  Next come infrastructure (12), social services (11), and crime (9).  Other problems like security, governance, agriculture, environment, and democracy are less mentioned; 21 percent have no answer.  The pattern in 2009 was similar.

At what governmental level does the main responsibility for solving this problem lie?  Opinions are split between national (35 percent) and city/town (31 percent).  Relatively few cite the barangay or provincial governments.

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The split opinion is due to a division of responsibility.  Most people look to the national government to solve problems of governance, the economy and agriculture.  On the other hand, most look to the city/town government to solve problems of security, crime, social services, environment and infrastructure.

Transparency. To the query of whether transaction procedures of the city/town are clear and understandable, 38 percent say “definitely,” 34 percent say “somewhat,” 18 percent say “somewhat not,” and 5 percent say “definitely not.”

However, easy access to specific documents is affirmed by only a few. The city/town’s development plan is accessible to 30 percent. Project details such as name, contract cost, winning bidder and procurement schedule are open to 27 percent; its budget for personnel, maintenance, operating expenses and capital outlay, to 26 percent; and its total expenditures, by service and by program, to 25 percent.

The Citizen’s Charter. What about the Citizen’s Charter, which requires agencies to put up billboards and publish the steps to obtain a service, the persons responsible for each step, the maximum time for the process, the documents needed from the customer, the service fees, and the procedure for filing complaints? Those who know this are only 42 percent in Balance Luzon, 39 percent in Visayas, and 33 percent in Mindanao.

Corruption. Comparing 2009 and 2011, the percentage perceiving “a lot” of corruption in government fell from 60 to 41 in the Balance of Luzon, and from 57 to 52 in the Visayas.  On the other hand, it rose from 50 to 57 in Mindanao.

In 2009, 54 percent felt that “the government can be run without corruption,” whereas 42 percent felt that “corruption is part of the way government works”; this is close to a mere split opinion.  In 2011, however, 65 percent feel government can be run without corruption, or double the 33 percent who feel otherwise; this is a big improvement in public confidence.

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Contact SWS: www.sws.org.ph or mahar.

[email protected]

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