Decentralisation and local governance conference in Manila

Decentralisation and local governance conference in Manila
26/02/2015

Philippines

Two long-standing DELGOSEA partners in the Philippines, Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS) and the Local Government Development Foundation (LOGODEF), organised a national conference on good governance on 12th February 2015 in Manila.

Good local governance has always been one of the main concerns of the DELGOSEA network, and the conference “Time to Reconfigure: Decentralization in a Changing Environment” was received with great interest by the political establishment in the Philippines, including the Vice-President Jejomar Binay whose welcome speech at the pre-conference dinner set the tone for the event.

The aim of the conference was to identify and agree on the next steps to be taken in the quest for good local governance. Decentralization and devolution were introduced in the 1987 Constitution and made operational with the 1991 Local Government Code – but more than 20 years have passed since then and it is time to look at what has been achieved and how the process can be improved. What reforms are needed to meet the needs of local governance?

This debate attracted more than 100 representatives of Local Governance Associations (LGAs) in the Philippines, local governments, academia and international organisations. Presentations by experts on fiscal reform, political reform and regional autonomy set the scene for an animated open forum, giving the opportunity for in-depth discussions and a frank exchange of views. The case of Bangsamoro, currently much discussed in the Philippines, was of particular interest as a case study for proposed regional autonomy.

It is not only in the Philippines, however, that circumstances change, and the potential impact of ASEAN integration on local governance and decentralization formed the second thematic area for analysis and discussion. The ASEAN Economic Community, encouraging free movement of goods, services and people across the ASEAN region, is scheduled to come into being at the end of 2015. How will that affect local governments and the decentralization process in the country?

The debate proved informative and fruitful with and an outcome document is being prepared for distribution that reflects the discussion and suggestions by participants.