Bayanihan sa Kaunlaran: Participatory Development and Governance for Sustainable Barangays
Overview of BDP-PLA in Quezon City
Prepared by Edwin Chavez,
Executive Director, Center for Popular Empowerment (CPE)**
October 17, 2006
Participatory governance has become not only a trend but an imperative for local governments to pursue development. In recent years, participation has become increasingly associated with decentralized governance. Governance is a relational concept, and has been described as the relationship between civil society and the state, between rulers and the ruled, the government and the governed (McCarthy, 1996). As more power and resources are transferred to local governments, decentralization has likewise opened up spaces for other actors—especially from civil society—to participate in governance. However, two distinct perspectives have emerged regarding the role of civil society participation. The first view regards participation primarily in instrumental terms: Participation is a means for making development interventions and public policies more responsive and effective (Leftwich 1994; Robinson 1998). The goal is to enhance the administrative and technocratic capacities of government.
Participation is valued for enhancing the legitimacy of public decision-making and for achieving better development outcomes, for instance efficient service delivery and poverty reduction. The second perspective emphasizes the intrinsic value of participation. Participation is viewed as an empowering and educational experience because it enhances the capacities of individuals to deliberate and make public decisions based on their own everyday, situated experiences, or local “political wisdom” (Fung and Wright 1999).
It is this latter perspective that has linked participation to concepts of democracy and gives participation a political dimension. Political participation has been commonly associated with representative democracy which focuses more on formal political processes and indirect forms of participation, for instance voting, lobbying and protest (Gaventa and Valderrama 1999). However, in the context of decentralized governance, there has been greater emphasis on direct forms of political participation, for instance in local development planning, budgeting, and policy-making. Direct citizens’ involvement is thought to have a democratizing influence, by making leaders more accountable and responsive and by transforming political institutions into more open and deliberative governance structures. Participation is considered a practice ground for democracy (Schönwälder, 1997).
Hence the process of participatory development and governance in Quezon City was forged between CPE and the City Government.
The 1991 Local Government Code stressed the democratization of power as a mode of decentralization. It mandates meaningful people’s participation in governance in local development planning, strengthening of the local development councils, both at the barangay and city level, and other special bodies. The LGC mandates the BDC to primarily prepare, implement, monitor and evaluate development programs and projects. The law also requires the punong barangays to submit to the barangay development council the prepared annual investment plans and budget before the approval of the barangay council.
Inspired by the innovative and democratizing provisions in the Local Government Code, civil society groups perceive a window of opportunity to stretch the participatory process in policy-making through this law. Civil society groups teamed up with local barangay officials in energizing the provisions on participatory processes in the barangay development planning. Based in a survey conducted by the DILG, less than 50% of the barangay development councils are active and less than 70% of the barangays prepare a comprehensive barangay development plan. The BDP-PLA process is one of the flagship program of the Barangay Bayan Governance Consortium (BBGC) a.k.a. BATMAN consortium, a national network of POs, NGOs, and reform-oriented local government officials which promotes participatory governance. CPE is one of the members of the consortium. To date, BBGC has facilitated the formulation of participatory barangay development plans and budgets in more than 2000 barangays since 1997.
The current initiative may start a process wherein barangay development councils, with strong participation of people’s organizations and NGOs, will truly perform its duty and barangay development plans truly reflect the ideals and aspirations of the people.
Beginning of partnership
The partnership between the Center for Popular Empowerment (CPE) and the city government of Quezon City began with the partnership with Rep. Loretta Ann P. Rosales of Akbayan and the City Government through Mayor Sonny “SB” Belmonte to conduct the “Sustainable And Rights-Based Approach To Barangay Development in Selected Barangays in Quezon City” in 2004.
The first activity was an orientation seminar on BDP-PLA which was held on February 11, 2005 at Bulwagang Amoranto. It was attended by barangay officials and staff from the CPDO, BOC, CRO and NGOs and POs.
After the orientation, a composite team was formally organized that will serve as the coordinating body in implementing the BDP-PLA process in identified pilot barangays. The team is composed by staff from BOC, CRO, CPDO and CPE. Mr. Jorge Felipe of BOC and Mr. Edwin Chavez of CPE, co-chairs the composite team with Mr. Donato Matias Officer in Charge (OIC) of the Barangay Operations Center (BOC), Mr. Tomasito Cruz, OIC of City Planning and Development Office, Mr. Albert Seno of Community Relations Office and The composite team agreed to conduct the BDP-PLA process in 1 pilot barangay in each congressional district. The first batch of the identified barangays were Malaya (District 4) and Balonbato (District 2). The second batch are barangays Qurino 2-A (District 3) and Nayong Kanluran (District 1).
CPE serves as the training arm of the team in participatory development planning and participatory governance. BOC serves as the point organization and will directly coordinate and mobilize the concerned barangay officials, CRO is in charge for meaningful participation of NGOs and POs in the process. The CPDO acts as the lead department in the development planning process (BDP-PLA) and will primarily assist in packaging and documenting and finalizing the plans and eventually integrating the barangay plans to the city development priorities.
The long-term objective of the process is in line with the Quezon City’s Vision of Sustainable Barangays and Participative governance wherein the process of development planning emanates from the barangays.
The BDP-PLA Process
The Barangay Development Planning through Participatory Learning and Action (BDP-PLA) is a process-oriented approach which involves the community members in data gathering, problem analysis and prioritization of needs, formulation of community vision and mission, formulation of sectoral goals and objectives and preparation of the comprehensive 5-year development plan, annual investment plan and annual operational plan.
The process usually takes 5-7 days of tedious process of workshops and focus group discussions which involves 40-70 participants from the communities and around 15-30 facilitators and documenters who are provides their respective expertise on development planning.
Participatory Learning and Action (PLA)
Participatory Learning and Action (PLA), which is also called Participatory Learning Activity, Participatory Resource Appraisal (PRA) or Participatory Action and Learning Method (PALM), is a participatory method used in development and project planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation. It is a set of attitudes and methods that promotes indigenous knowledge. Among the principles observed in PLA is “optimum ignorance”, “handing over the stick”, learn from the people. PLA promotes visual tools like maps, images, charts, as focus for discussion and to unleash the creativity of the people. It is also a fun and relaxed process. Through the tools and participative atmosphere, the participants are able enhance their knowledge and skills at the same time achieve their goal in forging a development plan.
The PLA facilitators and team members merely serve as facilitators for the community members themselves to gather the information, analyze the data, identify the priorities and make necessary plans of action to address the identified problems.
PLA is about attitudes and behavior change (ABC). It goes beyond the usual process of consulting the people about their problems and needs. PLA is a tool for empowerment wherein those who participate makes the decisions and choices.
Key Steps in BDP-PLA
- Social Preparation
Before the actual conduct of BDP-PLA in the barangays, identified facilitators are trained to facilitate and document the workshop process. Community orientations are also held to level-off on the objectives and processes to be undertaken. These community sessions are also intended to gather the support of the community members, especially the members of the sangguniang barangay.
- Data Gathering
The community members are grouped into different teams to conduct data gathering simultaneously. They are guided by trained facilitators in data gathering and analysis. PLA tools are used in gathering information. Problems and opportunities are identified in this stage. Data gathering usually takes 1 to 2 days.
- Problem Identification and Prioritization
Community planners use tools such as the “Problem Tree” or “Cause-Effect” diagrams in analyzing problems. This is done in each sectoral development sector. The problem trees are translated into “Needs Tree” which eventually will be used in identifying “Sectoral Goals and Objectives.”
Prioritizing needs is aided by the use of PLA tools such as “Matrix Ranking” or “Pair Wise Ranking Exercises”. Through the ranking exercises, the community members debate and bring into consensus perceived priorities through a set of criteria (i.e. urgency, scope, internal capacity to address the problems, availability of internal resources, etc.).
- Cross Sectoral Validation
The different sectors gather into a plenary and present the output for scrutiny of other groups. The groups provide feedback, ask clarifications, give suggestions or recommendations to other groups. This process enables feedback-giving among the groups and validation of data.
- Community Vision and Mission
The plenary group formulates vision and mission goals through a participatory process, thus increasing people’s ownership of the barangay’s vision and mission statements. It is done through the use of visual materials or through small workshops.
- Sectoral Strategies
Through the use of SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats), the teams formulate strategies that will help the barangay development council in achieving its vision, mission, goals and objectives. The SWOT are derived from the tools used in data gathering such as the strengths and weaknesses can be derived from maps and charts, while opportunities and threats may be derived from the Venn Diagram or Service maps.
- Sectoral Goals and Objectives and the 5-Year Comprehensive Development Plan
The identified sectoral goals and objectives will be based on the review of the “Needs Tree”. The participants will identify which need in the “Needs Tree”, can be addressed by all of the other needs. The one identified is most likely to become the overall goal for the sector being planned. Other needs may be translated into goals or actual projects and activities.
After goals and objectives were identified, the community planners will then identify specific programs and projects to carry out in the next 3 to 5 years, together with the key result areas and target budget needed.
- Preparation of Annual Investment Plans and Annual Operational Plans
The annual investment plans (AIPs) will now be based in a general framework plan of the barangay. Unlike in the usual process wherein barangays prepare AIPs yearly which is not based on a strategic framework plan, the AIP process enables the community leaders to strategically plan their projects and activities. The process also helps in identifying the projects and programs that the barangays can financially support and the projects that can be sourced out from other external sources.
The Annual Operational Plan (AOP) details how to implement the identified programs and projects. This plan consists of the projects in detail, the persons responsible in the implementation and the timeline of the activities.
- Plan Adoption and Approval
After the plans were formulated, the Barangay Development Council presents the plans to the Barangay Assembly for approval and adoption. The barangay assembly also serves as the venue for other community members to hear, provide feedback, suggest or ask clarifications, especially those who were not able to participate in the workshop-planning.
The barangay council will then approve through a resolution which the plans prepared. The plans will then be forwarded to the City government for review. Once approved, the barangay council enacts a budget ordinance to finance the planned projects and programs.
Plan packaging and marketing
The plans will be documented properly and packaged by the CPDO staff, with the assistance of CPE. The draft copies will be sent to the heads of offices (CPDO, BOC, CRO) and the barangay councils for review. Comments and suggestions will be forwarded to CPDO and CPE for final draft.
Once the final draft is finished, a pledging session will be organized. A pledging session is an affair wherein prospective supporters of the plans will be invited to pledge support for the identified projects and needs. Since the IRA and 20% Development Fund of the barangays will not suffice the financing of the identified projects, support from legislators, councilors, other government agencies and NGOs may be mobilized to realize the priorities identified by the people.
Plan Implementation, Monitoring and Evaluation
The Barangay Development Council is the main responsible body in implementing, monitoring and evaluating the programs and projects identified in the plan. The BDC members should thus be equipped with the necessary skills, knowledge and attitudes in program implementation, monitoring and evaluation.
Integrative, comprehensive and multi-sectoral approach
The composite team decided that the framework to be used in barangay planning shall be the framework used in city development planning.
The vision, mission and development priorities of the city were also reviewed during the training to level-off and integrate the elements in the barangay development plans to the wider framework which is the city framework.
The following are the development sectors wherein development plans were formulated and priority programs and projects were identified:
1. Physical Development Plan
· land use
· Road network
· Drainage and Flood Control System Development
· Utilities (potable water and electricity)
2. Environment Management and Housing Development
· solid waste
· river protection and conservation
· garden city (parks and open space)
3. Economic Development Plan
Employment and Livelihood
Livelihood and Employment Center Development Program
- Manpower Development Program
- Livelihood Development Program
- Cooperative Education and Development Program
- Tourism and Culture
4. Health Development
- Health Facilities Development Program
- Comprehensive Health Care
5. Gender and Development
- Participation of women
- Livelihood and income opportunities
- Awareness on Productive and Reproductive rights
- Use of GAD budget
- Educational facilities development program
- Sports and Recreation
7. Public Safety
- Crime suppression and prevention
- Law enforcement
- Fire protection and prevention
- Risk and hazard management
- Protective facilities development program
8. Social welfare
- Community Outreach
- Welfare and relief Program
- Public Assistance Program
- Social Welfare Facilities Development Program
- Detention and Reformatory Institution Development Program
- Special Collaborative Program
- Vocational development program
- Residential care and rehab program
9. Governance and Institutional Development
people’s participation in governance
transparency and accountability
- Organizational development program
- Capability building
- Institutional facilities
- Strengthening of people’s participation in governance
Comprehensive barangay development program
Revenue generation program
BDP-PLA Facilitators’ Training for Balonbato and Malaya
The first Facilitators’ Training on Barangay Development Planning through Participatory Learning and Action (BDP-PLA) was held on May, 2005 at Pilillia, Rizal. It was attended by 47 participants from CPE, BOC, CRO, CPDO and the two barangays. Participants were divided into two barangays to act as facilitators, documenters and process observers.
The training includes the actual process in the barangays. A total of 36 participants were able to complete the training and were given certificates of completion during the Graduation Ceremonies on June 15, 2006.
Actual BDP-PLA in Balonbato and Malaya
The actual BDP-PLA in the two barangays was spearheaded by Punong Barangays Leonor Briones and Feliciana Ong. The coordinators from the Composite Team were Mr. Danny Pedarse and Mr. Jayson Burce of BOC. CPE point persons were Mr. Edwin Chavez and Mr. Ricardo Tulio for Barangays Balonbato and Malaya, respectively.
The actual BDP-PLA was conducted on a staggered basis. The barangay people were the ones asked of their availability. Usually the BDP-PLA processes were conducted twice a week or once a week. In Barangay Malaya, a total of 13 sessions were conducted, wherein 8 days were conducted at the barangay level. Other sessions include meetings of the BDP-PLA team for consolidating the data, identifying data gaps, and documentation. In Balonbato, a total of 7 days workshop in the barangay was conducted. The process in the two barangays happened from May 13 to August 17 in Barangay Malaya and from May 13 to June 10 in Balonbato.
After the participatory planning process is accomplished, the barangay development plan shall be packaged into a well-written and graphic-laden document. A two-day workshop on documentation and packaging of the BDPs was conducted on November 15-16, 2006. It was attended by 23 selected participants who were primarily involved in the documentation process. At the end of the workshop, the participants were able to prepare the draft copy of the plans of the two barangays. Initial drafts were prepared by the City Planning and Development Office (CPDO), and the Center for Popular Empowerment (CPE).
Second Batch of BDP-PLA : Quirino 2-A and Nayong Kanluran
The second batch of BDP-PLA in Quezon City commenced in during the Facilitators’ Training which was held at Ciudad Christhia Resort, San Mateo, Rizal Most of the participants came from the barangay development councils (BDCs) of Barangays Quirino 2-A and Nayong Kanluran, through the leadership of Punong Barangays Eunice Bucsit and Noel Agdeppa, Point persons for the two barangays are Mr. Ric Arriola and Ms. Nancy Abacan of the CPDO.
They are now in the stage of consolidating and packaging the barangay development plans formulated by the people. Development priorities have been collectively identified through different ranking methodologies.
Results and Learnings
- Increased stakeholdership of community to plan formulation , implementation, monitoring and evaluation .
- Reversal of priorities. The priority programs of the barangays are reversed e.g. from infrastructure to basic rights and social issues such as housing and economic development
- Comprehensive , holistic and integrated approach. Not limited to infrastructure projects.
- Initial process of Gender mainstreaming GAD has been consciously integrated in the analysis and planning.
- People in the community can really do planning!
Issues and Challenges
The primary issue is on how to sustain and mainstream the initiative of participatory development planning in the city level. There are already trained staff from the city government, and NGOs and POs who may carry on the technology.
Participation of the community members seem to be a problem during the first days of the barangay level planning session. But after after the frist day of the workshop, other community members seem to be interested in the process and eventually participate in the different sectoral workshops.
Another thing that has to be seriously considered is the strengthening of the Barangay Development Councils. The BDCs are the ones primary tasked in successfully implementing the development programs of the barangay.
There is also a serious consideration on how to mainstream the participatory process of development planning in the city development planning process. Initially, the city government is considering to expand the process to another 12 barangays next year. Doing this would entail administrative and logistical arrangements within the city government in order to effectively deploy key personnel and coordinate the activities. In other areas where BDP-PLA process has been implemented in all the barangays, the municipal LGU formed a Task Force or a Technical Working Group whose main task is to implement the participatory development planning process.
On the part of the barangays the biggest challenge is how to realize the vision, mission and goals that were collectively formulated by the barangay. Pledging sessions are key activities that may help in realizing the barangay’s goals. But there are other innovative and proactive ways wherein the barangays can generate resources.
Bringing the people in governance is a major task that has still to be pursued. In Quezon City, this process has been started. Hence the importance of strong principled partnership between the LGUs and civil society organizations in achieving this vision.
The barangay development planning through PLA is just part of the whole framework of participatory governance—which has its form and substance to be observed. Oftentimes, participatory governance is seen only through its form – forms of people’s participation in decision-making process i.e. consultation. But the quality of participation must also be put into serious consideration. Participation is empowering only if those who participate makes the decision and choices.
Participatory governance remains to be a challenge after more than 13 years of LGC implementation. It remains to be a vision to be realized in the majority of the local government units in the Philippines. In the National Capital Region, only Quezon City has embarked in participatory barangay development planning process. The 4 pilot barangays in Quezon City may serve as a jumping board in pursuing participatory development planning process and participatory governance in general, in the whole city. Lessons may be culled from this initial experience that will further put the city to become a more quality city—wherein people in the communities have exercised their active citizenship.
* Barangay Development Planning through Participatory Learning and Action ** CPE is an NGO focused in advocating participatory urban governance and the promotion of political, economic, and socio-cultural rights of the marginalized sectors in urban areas.
 Although the term civil society may encompass every actor aside from the family and the state and includes economic elites (Cohen and Arato 1992 cited in Keaton 2003: 471), we adopt Keaton’s (2003) more restrictive definition of civil society to mean non-elite actors, especially those representing the marginalized sectors in society. These include non-government organizations (NGOs), community-based organizations (CBOs) or people’s organizations (POs), church networks, etc.