A total of P11.714-billion has been earmarked this year to finance local development projects in 1,373 municipalities across the country under the Assistance to Municipalities (AM) Program of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).
DILG Secretary Eduardo M. Año said that the AM program will cover priority projects such as local access roads including drainage system; local bridges, potable water supply projects, evacuation centers and DRR-related equipment; small water impounding projects; rainwater catchment facilities; sanitation and health facilities; and municipal drug rehabilitation facilities.
“Layunin ng AM program na matulungan ang mga munisipyo lalong lalo na yung mga 4th to 6th class at iyong nasa malalayong lugar para matupad ang kanilang mga programa at mabigyan ng serbisyo ang kanilang mga mamamayan,” Año says.
Of the P11.714 billion AM funds, P1.17-million is earmarked for 134 AM projects of 75 local government units (LGUs) in Ilocos Region; P818-million for 145 AM projects in 89 towns of Cagayan Valley; P1.269-billion for 207 development projects in 116 towns of Central Luzon; P1.153-billion is budgeted for 259 projects in 123 towns of CALABARZON; P509-million for 108 projects in 71 towns of MIMAROPA; P851-million for 177 projects in 107 towns of Bicol Region; P656-million for 134 projects in 75 towns of Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR); and P11-million for 1 project in National Capital Region (NCR).
For the Visayas, P1-billion is allocated for 173 projects in 136 towns of Eastern Visayas; P965-million for 169 AM projects in 117 towns of Western Visayas; and P834-million for 196 projects in 116 towns of Central Visayas.
Meanwhile, for Mindanao, P553-million has been appropriated to fund 103 AM projects in 103 towns of Zamboanga Peninsula; P673-million for 116 projects in 84 towns of Northern Mindanao; P304-million for 74 projects in 43 towns of Davao Region; P387-million for 71 projects in 45 LGUs of SOCCSKSARGEN; and P551-million for 76 projects in 67 LGUs of CARAGA.
The AM program seeks to equitably assist all municipalities in the delivery of basic services by providing a financial subsidy to municipalities for the implementation of their priority programs and projects.
AM funds not a dole-out
According to the DILG Chief, the AM program is not a dole-out because the release of funds shall be subject to the compliance of concerned municipal governments to several good governance requirements.
“Hindi automatic ang pagbibigay ng pondo sa mga munisipyo. Kailangan muna nilang patunayan na karapat-dapat silang makatanggap nito sa pamamagitan ng pagsumite ng ilang requirements,” he says.
These are: the requirements under the DILG Good Financial Housekeeping and the DILG Local Development Council Functionality Assessment; assessment of Public Financial Management (PFM) Systems and adoption of corresponding PFM improvement measures; and submission of notarized certification for fund release signed by the local chief executive.
He explains that the notarized certification should specify that the site of the project has no land ownership or right-of-way issues, the project is not located in the no-build zone and hazard-prone area; for water supply, water source has been validated and found to be feasible to supply water to the intended beneficiaries and potable for drinking.
“At DILG, we will ensure that these AM projects adhere to the national standards and policies of construction, rehabilitation, improvement, or repair of infrastructure in all applicable phases from project preparation to completion,” Año says.
“We only want to make sure that the AM projects will be sustainable and will provide long-term benefits and convenience to the communities and the townsfolk,” he adds.
Año also points out that municipal governments need to shell out counterpart funds to cover expenses incurred in the conduct of preliminary activities such as community consultations; securing clearances and permits; feasibility study preparation; surveys; detailed engineering design preparation; procurement activities; water drilling explorations; pump test/water quality test, among others.
“The AM program will finance a major part of the project but municipal governments should have the financial capacity to cover preliminary and administrative costs of their projects,” he says.
The budget allocation for municipalities is based on equal share, fiscal capacity, per capita share, and share for good performance.
Mayor as accountable officer
The DILG Secretary says the municipal mayor, as the local chief executive (LCE), shall be primarily accountable for the overall implementation of the projects.
To ensure the effective implementation of the project, the LCE shall also issue an executive order creating or reactivating a Project Monitoring Committee to be headed by the municipal planning and development coordinator, an Inspectorate Team and a Project Implementation Team both to be headed by the municipal engineer.
Only those LGUs who have complied with the mandatory requirements will be endorsed by the DILG for the direct download of AM funds from the Department of Budget and Management down to the LGU level.