Many of the important functions of government are handled at the local level. For instance, provinces, cities, municipalities and barangays are at the frontlines in providing for health care, safe communities and vibrant local economies. As such, the mission of the Center for Local and Regional Governance has long been to support local governments through research, training and consulting services.
Since 1965, the Center has embraced a wide range of interests from service delivery to federalism, development of governance metrics to providing a space for dialogue. After a half century of work, CLRG continues to evolve while remaining true to its mandate. For one, more than two decades after the enactment of the Local Government Code, the Philippines’ local governments are entering into a period of “maturity” and evolution as they face the new challenges of 21st century society. These challenges include, among others, climate change, regional integration, new technologies, calls for greater participation and transparency, and greater demand for better services (see Figure 1).
Figure 1. Environmental Pressures to Local Governance
With these environmental challenges and external pressures, CLRG continues to be committed in supporting public servants and other stakeholders as they navigate the changing landscape of local and regional governance, through continued research, and extension. What the environmental pressures entail is a more resilient government (see Figure 2). One that can address not only climactic and weather changes, but also changes in population dynamics, and globalization. Hence, amidst the pressures of ASEAN integration, we would like to look at a broader and more liberal concept of regional governance. One that embraces the need for greater synergies between local, national and regional governance systems. One that recognizes the challenge of being competitive requires interlocal cooperation among local government units.
Figure 2. Resilient Regional Governance
With calls for greater participation and transparency, CLRG would also like to pioneer calls for more open government, whether through freedom of information, and through open data initiatives, that would also call to task greater roles from the civil society that continues to actively engage LGUs. CLRG’s approach is simple. We shall build new knowledge through research based on actionable data (see Figure 3). These data may come in the form of climate and weather data, budgets, plans, and open data, from the various levels of government. Once we have developed the needed knowledge from our research, we shall develop instruments (e.g. policy documents; training designs) that can be run and implemented through pilots with partner LGUs. This experience shall, in turn, be leveraged and scaled through the network of provinces, cities and municipalities that CLRG has fostered strong relationships with in the past.
Figure 3. The CLRG Approach
As such, as we move forward, CLRG shall remain at the forefront of addressing the emerging challenges in local and regional governance in the Philippines, and remain true to its mandate as the leader in the field.
ERWIN GASPAR A. ALAMPAY Associate Professor of Public Administration and Director of CLRG