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Civil society’s crucial role in fiscal decentralization has been stressed.

Civil society organizations (CSOs) serve key responsibilities and capacities in the implementation of fiscal decentralization, according to the Philippine Open Government Partnership (PH-OGP).

“Today, as we talk among ourselves, we learn that we can work on an equal footing with our government allies in the local government,” Andrea Maria Patricia Sarenas, co-chairperson of the PH-OGP Non-Government Non-Steering Committee, said on November 19 during the third session of the Fiscal Transparency Webinar Series for the Non-Governmental Sector entitled “Ambag Natin: Partisipasyon ng CSOs sa Proseso at Implementa

Serenas welcomed around 300 government and non-government stakeholders from across the country, including civil society organizations, grassroots organizations, academic institutions, and public-sector unions.

Dr. Divina Luz J. Lopez, the former National Coordinator of the Philippine Partnership for the Development of Human Resources in Rural Areas (PhilDHRRA), spoke about the importance of civil society organizations (CSOs) in local government units (LGUs), especially during the devolution process.

She went over the CSO parts in further detail and offered key lessons for better citizen engagement.

Polomolok, South Cotabato Mayor Honey Lumayag-Matti discussed their experience with existing decentralization and devolution procedures, as well as steps to improve public service delivery through co-governance.

She spoke about how CSOs are working to enhance public service in their communities, emphasizing the importance of collaboration across all sectors of the country, particularly in local governments.

“Mas marami pong pwedeng gawin tayong nagtutulung-tulungan, mas marami pong pwedeng gawin tayong nagtutulung-tulungan tayong nagtutulung-tulungan tayong (The more people who work together, the more work is achieved). Collaborate and cooperate. Consider all points of view and circumstances from all parties and make a decision based on the common good. You must also learn to rely on one another. “Masisigurado po natin na pwede tayong ma-evolve (we can ensure that we can evolve) into better individuals and better public servants through these collaborations,” Matti remarked.

An open forum was attended by members of the Committee on Devolution, Director John Aries S. Macaspac of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), and Director Anna Liza F. Bonagua of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).

Throughout the devolution transition era and beyond, Bonagua discussed the effectiveness and relevance of collaboration between the government and non-government sectors.

“More than ever, mas kailangan ngayon ng (engagement of all sectors by LGUs, including civil society, development partners, and academic institutions) is much needed this time.” They will require all of the assistance they can muster in order to support this new phase of devolution and assure its success. “Kailangan nila ng lahat ng suporta (therefore they need all kinds of help), much more from our civil society organizations,” Bonagua remarked.

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