Under a provincial ordinance enacted late last year, all national agencies are now mandated to seek consultation and prior approval from the Sangguniang Panlalawigan during the planning stage and prior to the preparation of the program of work of agency projects.
According to Resolution No. 355-2016 authored by PBMs Rafael Zuniega and Vincent Villaluna, the ordinance prescribed uniform guidelines on all local government units and national agencies acting as implementing agency for various programs and development projects in Catanduanes pursuant to Republic Act 7160.
Also present during the Dec. 5, 2016 session presided over by Vice Governor Shirley Abundo were PBMs Giovanni Balmadrid, Arnel Turado, Lorenzo Templonuevo Jr. and Jose Romeo Francisco.
The ordinance used as basis Section 2(c) of RA 7160 requiring all national agencies to conduct periodic consultation with LGUs, non-governmental and people’s organizations and other concerned community sectors before any project or program is implemented in their jurisdiction, as well as Sec. 26 of the same Code on the duty of national agencies or GOCCs to explain the impact of projects on the people and community in terms of environmental or ecological balance.
It likewise cited Sec. 27 which states that no project or program shall be implemented by government authorities unless prior consultations under Sec. 2(c) and Sec. 26 are complied with, and prior approval of the Sanggunian concerned is obtained.
The board also used as basis DILG Opinion No. 5-1996 recognizing the authority of the Sanggunian to compel a congressman to seek its prior approval before the latter may implement a project.
“There is a cogent need to abort and prevent any duplication of projects in terms of budgetary allocation by and between the provincial government and national agencies under the executive department in relations to programs or projects funded out of the Annual Investment Program (AIP) of the province, the Presidential Social Fund (PSF), or from the General Appropriations Act (GAA),” the proponents stated, adding that the LGU is empowered to exercise police power to ensure public peace, security, safety and convenience.
Covered by the SP’s prior consultation and approval are all national agencies whose program, infrastructure or development funds are derived from the PSF or their regular funds intended for the construction, rehabilitation, or maintenance of roads, bridges, school buildings, irrigation canals, farm to market roads, river control system, seawalls, livelihood and agriculture projects in the province of Catanduanes,
Under the ordinance, the agency concerned shall submit to the SP substantial documents such as application letter, proposed project and location, budgetary cost, minutes of consultation from NGO, Certification of No Objection from the mayor of the municipality where the site of the proposed project is situated, and a Safety and Environment Plan prepared by a licensed Safety/Environment practitioner.
After the SP finds that the documents have been complied with, it shall issue a resolution approving such infra or development project; otherwise, it may disapprove the same for non-compliance. The resolution shall be approved by the governor subject to the override vote of two-thirds of the Sanggunian members.
The same ordinance also applies the same requirements on all barangays within a municipality for any “soft development projects or programs”, which must be approved by the Sangguniang Bayan for legislative concurrence. The SB resolution disapproving the barangay development projects or programs shall have to be submitted to the SP for review to ensure that the measure is not contrary to public welfare.
Strangely, the Zuniega-Villaluna measure does not apply the same requirement on municipal projects and programs, which should have been logically subject to the SP approval if the objective of ensuring non-duplication of projects is to be considered.
Exempted from coverage are projects that were clearly specified, itemized and included in the GAA; those that are considered Flagship Programs of the President as certified by NEDA; and, projects that are energy-related for power reliability and dependability pursuant to the Renewable Energy Act. The agency concerned, however, shall have to furnish the SP the Program of Work for the projects before the legislative body passes a resolution exempting the projects from coverage.
The SP approval process will take a maximum of 30 days from receipt of the application letter, with the period not including the time the SP refers back the application to the agency for any deficiency which have to be complied with.
Under Sec. 5.2 of the ordinance, the provincial government may file a case for violation of the ordinance, but the ordinance itself carries no penal provision.
The same section states that prior to filing such a case, the SP through a resolution shall recommend to the provincial governor the issuance of a Cease and Desist Order (CDO) for the stoppage of a particular development project for 30 days “in contravention with the aforementioned guidelines” after giving the adverse party sufficient time and opportunity for “corrective measures compliance.” No CDO shall be issued for more than once, it added.
The ordinance took effect following its approval by Governor Joseph Cua. Copies of the resolution have been furnished all national government agencies in the province and the Bicol region.