DILG issues stricter rules for LGU foreign travels
posted 26-Jun-2019  ·  
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All forms of travel junkets by local government units are prohibited under stricter guidelines issued recently by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) pursuant to a directive of President Rodrigo Duterte.

“Likewise, the conduct of strategic planning workshops or team building activities overseas are not allowed,” Secretary Eduardo Año stated in the May 30, 2019 circular that amended pertinent provisions of DILG Memorandum Circular No. 2018-197 issued last year.

Official travels, Memorandum Circular 2019-83 said, shall cover only those which meet the following criteria: it is essential to the effective performance of an official or employee’s mandates or functions; it is required to meet the needsof the LGU concerned, or there is substantial benefit that can be derived; the presence of the official or employee is critical to the outcome of the meeting, conference, seminar, consultation or any official activity to be attended; and, the projected expenses are not excessive or involve minimum expenditure.

Under the new memo, study trips covering technical training or scholarship grant processed or coordinated either by the Commission on Higher Education, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), the DILG Local Government Academy, other national government agencies, international agencies, foreign governments or as part of an existing partnership between an LGU and its counterpart abroad.

However, it clarifies, LGU expenses for the study trip shall be limited only to Pre-Departure expenses since donor countries or organizations shall pay for airfares, school/training fees, accommodations, health insurance, and stipend. The allowable Pre-Departure expense of P3,500.00, shall cover miscellaneous expenses like taxi fare, passport processing, immunization and medical laboratory fees, photographs, porterage, airport terminal fees and other related expenses.

In cases where airfares and clothing allowance will not be shouldered by the donors, the LGU may pay for the same, subject to the provisions of the agreement that may be entered into by the donor and the LGU.

On the other hand, Non-Study Trips are limited to attendance to international conferences, seminars or meetings to which the Philippine government has commitments, or to undertake official missions or assignments which cannot be assigned to government officials posted abroad.

Also allowed are trips covering invitations for speaking engagements or receiving of awards from foreign governments/institutions or international agencies or organizations, whether fully or partially funded by the government, upon the endorsement of the Department of Foreign Affairs.

In case of a non-study trip involving a delegation from an LGU, the chief executive concerned shall see to it that the size of the delegation is kept to the barest minimum without sacrificing effective representation, the memo states, with the responsibility of each member clearly defined and with the purpose of the trip meritorious in relation to their individual work in their official stations.

The DILG circular also states that personal or private trips for such purposes as medical reason, emergency, or a special occasion in which the presence of a local government official or employee is deemed indispensable, shall only be undertaken while on official leave of absence.

Gone from the previous list of non-study trips are attendance to conferences or events which are in accordance with the LGU’s Capacity Development Agenda, promotion of local government technical exchange and cooperation or as part of sisterhood agreements, and Study-cum-Observation Tours whether funded by a national agency of the LGU.

As in the previous guideline, the DILG Secretary shall approve requests for foreign travel of the provincial governor, mayor of highly urbanized city and independent component city, regardless of the nature, purpose and duration of such travel.

The same applies to the foreign travel of all other elective officials from vice governor down to barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan officials, as well as LGU department heads, on official time only, or on official business, or when the travel duration exceeds three months, or during a period of emergency or crisis. Also covered are local government employees who will travel on official time only, or on official business.

In personal or private travels not exceeding three months or those undertaken during a period where there is no emergency or crisis, the request may be approved by the local chief executive concerned, with the approved leave application serving as travel authorization.

Those with approved travels may be granted Daily Subsistence Allowance for hotel/lodging, meals and incidental expenses, based on the rates established by the International Civil Service Commission of the United Nations.

For example, an official trip to Osaka, Japan or Bangkok, Thailand has a DSA of US$225 while one involving travel to New York, USA has a DSA of US$430.

Clothing allowance ranging from US$200 to US$400 shall also be granted to the local government official and employee on foreign travel in tropical or temperate countries, regardless of the nature of travel, for trips longer than one month.

In case of emergency and/or natural or human-induced disaster, the DILG Secretary or his authorized representative may recall the travel authority granted to any local government official or employee.

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