ADVOCACY FOR LOCAL GOVERNANCE
PEASANT POLICY ADVOCACY AGENDA
POLICY ADVOCACY IN LABOR
POLICY ADVOCACY FOR SUSTAINABLE ENVIRONMENT
ADVOCACY FOR LOCAL GOVERNANCE
People’s Participation in Local Governance
SALIGAN ensures the greater participation of the basic and marginalized sector in local governance by seeking the passage of the Local Sectoral Representation bill, by pushing for electoral reforms and by being critical of the various efforts to amend the Local Government Code.
The Local Sectoral Representation Act
Marginalized sectors are not fully represented in government and do not have enough access to policy-making bodies. We speak here of the women, laborers, indigenous peoples, differently-abled persons, senior citizens, children, and the urban poor sectors.
Seventeen years since the ratification of the 1987 Constitution and subsequently thirteen years after the passage of the Local Government Code of 1991, Local Sectoral Representatives have yet to take up their seats in the local sanggunians. The LSR is a system that ensures the participation of marginalized sectors in the local decision-making processes. It is the local equivalent of the party-list system where different sectors will be represented in legislative bodies such as the sangguniang bayan, sangguniang panlunsod, and sangguniang panlalawigan. Like the party elections, instead of electing individual candidates to seats in the local sanggunian, voters will elect sectoral organizations that work for and represent the marginalized sectors.
Local Sectoral Representation is part of the democratization provision of the Local Government Code that aims to open up avenues for citizen’s participation in decision-making processes. Unlike the participation open to NGOs and POs in the local special bodies, the sectoral representatives will be decision-makers and not merely recommendatory bodies. Marginalized sectors will have a greater say in the kind of development that the local government units will pursue. Thus, programs and projects will definitely reflect and address the concerns of the marginalized groups.
Local Governance in Bicol
One of the major attributes of the Local Government Code of 1991 is the democratization of governmental powers to include involvement of its constituents especially the basic sectors. SALIGAN has continuously worked with both the marginalized sectors and various local government units in the Bicol Region to achieve the purpose of the law through the following policy directions:
Local Sectoral Representation
Local Sectoral Representation would allow sectoral representatives to enagage as regular members of local legislative bodies. After so many years, only Naga City has passed the LSR Ordinance in October of 2007. SALIGAN sets as one of its priority agenda the actual implementation of the LSR Ordinance in Naga City. Furthermore, SALIGAN will continue to lobby for the replication a similar ordinance in other local government units in the Bicol region.
SALIGAN, being an active member of the Naga City People’s Council, have been sitting as member in different committees of the Sanggunian Panlungsod and local boards. The creation of People’s Council through an Empowerment Ordinance, which acts independently of the LGU, bestows upon NGO and PO representatives membership in Boards and Committees in the Local Legislative Body. As such members, the representatives have the power to deliberate and vote upon, at least in the committee level, on legislative measures.
SALIGAN will continue to push for its replication in other local government units. The advocacy for the passage of the IRR and the implementation of the Legaspi City Empowerment Ordinance of 2007 continues.
Local Housing Boards
The local government units are mandated to implement the Urban Development and Housing Act of 1992. However, due to the lack of political will of local officials, the law has not reached its full implementation. To address the gap, ordinances creating Local Housing Boards were passed in a number of LGUs in Bicol region. SALIGAN, in partnership with urban poor NGOs and POs, particularly the BIcol Urban Poor Coordinating Council (BUPCC), has been acting as consultant in the housing boards of different LGUs the cities of Iriga, Legaspi, Tabaco and Sorsogon and the municipalities of Pili and Daet. A representative of SALIGAN sits as a member of the Naga City LHB. We also aim to pass LHB ordinances in three (3) local government units, namely: Ligao City, Daraga and Malilipot, all in the province of Albay.
Local Legislative Measures for the Basic Sectors
The decentralization of governance presents an opportunity to the basic sectors to propose measures to local legislative bodies through ordinances. SALIGAN, through partner organizations, uses this chance either in advocating for the creation of councils to implement a national law like the AVAWC, Solid Waste Management Act, Fisheries Code and UDHA or in localizing national advocacies like the reproductive health, decriminalization of women in prostitution and local housing board.
PEASANT POLICY ADVOCACY AGENDA
CARP (Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program)
The passage of the CARPER law in June 2010 marks the triumph of the peasantry in legislation. The victory however requires vigilance from the advocates so that the law shall be implemented according to its essence. After more than two decades, around 1.3 million hectares of agricultural lands have yet to be distributed to the beneficiaries. Major policy reversals on agrarian reform such as continuous land conversion and exemption of lands, cancellation of Certificate of Land Ownership Awards (CLOA) and Emancipation Patents (EP), and execution of leaseback agreements threatened the program and undermined many of its gains. SALIGAN, together with other groups working for agrarian reform, remain watchful and active to ensure that tillers are given land and provided support services by the government.
At present, while there are several laws on land use, there is no comprehensive national land use policy. Thus resulting in conflicting legal provisions regarding ownership and use of land and other resources. SALIGAN and other groups has been lobbying for the passage of a National Land Use Act [NLUA]. SALIGAN, in various partnerships with PLCPD, Oxfam, Alternative Law Groups, ANGOC and the People’s Alarm also worked in the conduct of case studies and discussions as regards conflicting claims between sectors.
SALIGAN has been involved in various policy issues affecting fisherfolks, particularly in relation to fisheries management and fisherfolk settlement. As the Nerve Center of the NGOs for Fisheries Reform [NfR], SALIGAN has organized several policy review sessions and fora on fisheries issues for Mindanao-based NGOs and people’s organizations. SALIGAN and NfR also continue to lobby for bills on fisheries filed in Congress.
With the revocation of Department Order No. 17 (series of 2001) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources [DENR], there now remains an unclear process of delineation of municipal waters.The present policy, Department Order No. 1 (series of 2004) of the Department of Agriculture [DA] does not address the situation of municipalities with offshore islands. SALIGAN and NfR have been active in pushing for policies as regards the application of the archipelagic principle in the delineation of municipal waters and, more importantly, the exclusive use of municipal fisherfolk of the 15-km municipal waters.
Another issue related to fisheries management is the absence of Municipal Fisheries Development Plans in some coastal municipalities. In order to facilitate the formulation of said plan, SALIGAN has conducted consultations with local communities as regards the drafting and passage of Municipal Fisheries Resource Management Ordinance.
Section 108 of the Fisheries Code [Republic Act No. 8550] has not been enforced due to lack of implementing guidelines as regards fisherfolk settlement. Aside from pushing for the adoption of a Joint Administrative Order on fisherfolk settlement with various national government agencies concerned, SALIGAN also seeks to lobby with local sanggunians regarding the identification of lands suitable for fisherfolk settlement.
POLICY ADVOCACY IN LABOR
Our involvement with local labor organizations, particularly with academe unions, those in agricultural plantations and the transport and industrial sector, yields these legislative aims, similar with the policy agenda with our national office, addressing through involvement in regional and local legislative avenues:
Security of Tenure
Pervasive contractual against regular employment, and the closure of companies adding to the number of informal workers in the country, are among the labor sector’s challenges today. As a result, SALIGAN has prepared a bill on security of tenure previously submitted in the 12th Congress. With the efforts of the main office to address security of tenure involved simplifying the classification of workers, and creating rules on employment for extra-regular workers in the hotel industry, the branch focuses on fortifying the ranks of advocates for the bill through education and information on the salient points of the proposal and pushing for a local legislative measures in support of the bill. With workers from agricultural plantations, this includes pushing the labor agencies to take a look at tenurial security issues of labor in these areas.
Right to a Living Wage
The Constitution provides for the workers’ right to sufficient wages. Only the minimum amount set by law is not enough to meet the rising cost of living. Most are even awarded less than this meager sum. For this reason, SALIGAN has lobbied that workers’ wages be based on industry, rather than region. A complementary action taken relates to a review of wage fixing. SALIGAN has also filed a case in the Supreme Court against the Wage Board’s authority on industry exceptions to the minimum wage. On the part of the branch office, measures have been taken to have our paralegals involved in the discussion of living wage and in the deliberations of the wage boards fixing the minimum wage. A partnership with the Alliance of Progressive Labor in Mindanao seeks to file a petition increasing the minimum wage to meet the living wage standards in the region.
Right to Speedy Labor Justice
As remedy to a labor justice system mired by corruption, SALIGAN has proposed the creation of a one-stop shop for the speedier settlement of labor cases. With the APL, the main office have supported this alternative by articulating the bill’s provisions, and participated in Congressional hearings on other measures for a more efficient labor justice system. The branch office has participated as well with the regional consultations in the amendments to the labor code, and this includes pushing for reforms in labor justice system. With the labor paralegals and the academe union partners, a proposal for the establishment of a Workers’ Affairs Office in the City of Davao is presently being reviewed for submitted before the City Council. This is sought to provide a mechanism before the local government unit of a venue to address labor concerns. With respect to pushing for the bill before Congress, the branch office, together with the Alternative Law Groups (ALG) Mindanao, has presented before Mindanao legislators the features of the bill for their support, along with other priority legislative measures supported by the ALG.
While there are more laws advancing women’s rights, many Filipinas remain at a disadvantage. SALIGAN advocates equal-opportunity employment by supporting bills on anti-discrimination against women-workers in Congress, and handling related cases. In addition, SALIGAN aims to reinforce the current Anti-Sexual Harassment Law (RA 7877), and with the solidarity network organization Makalaya, review existing provisions on women-workers in the Labor Code. The branch office, through the women program, continuously supports this advocacy through consultations with partner organizations.
POLICY ADVOCACY FOR SUSTAINABLE ENVIRONMENT
Right to Healthful and Balanced Ecology
Generally, the constitutional mandate and jurisprudential invocation of the right of the peoples to a healthful and balanced ecology is a mere token declaration. Communities are still bombarded by practices that violate this right such as:
- Aerial spraying of chemicals including heavy use of pesticides in agricultural plantations, thereby affecting peoples’ health and lives
- Rampant violations of logging and mining activities resulting to degradation of watershed areas
- Continuous pollution of ecosystems from coastal, agricultural and upland areas depriving communities of the management of natural resources in their areas
- Other abuses of the environment resulting to dispossession of communities stewardship to resources
In that regard, SALIGAN pushes for the enactment of several bills pending in Congress and other local legislative bodies that aims to protect people’s right to health and the environment. Several gains have been achieved at the local level, particularly with the enactment of the Davao City Ordinance Banning Aerial Spraying in Agricultural Areas. This Ordinance became a subject of a case involving its constitutionality raised by banana companies, of which community residents intervened in the case defending its validity. RTC of Davao has ruled in favor of its constitutionality. Case is pending before the Court of Appeals. Environment groups such as the Mamamayan Ayaw sa Aerial Spraying (MAAS) and Foundation for the Philippine Environment (FPE) support the action.
Overlapping Interest of Sectoral Concerns
There are conflicting laws arising from overlapping rights of sectors with respect to their respective rights to manage and utilize natural resources within their communities, such as:
- Indigenous peoples with respect to utilization of resources in conflict with provisions of the Forestry Code and Mining laws
- Fisherfolks claiming the utilization of municipal waters in conflict w/ IP claims over ancestral waters
- Peasants asserting their rights to distribution of lands to public domain which are identified as for conservations purposes, such as protected areas under NIPAS.
- Urban poor attempts to comply with urban environmental laws such as ESWMA and Clean Air Act
- Communities’ assertion over their right to manage their environment which is in conflict with government agencies directive that jurisdiction vests with them.
Community consultations have been conducted with respect to this area of concern, particularly on mining issues in Governor Generoso, Davao Oriental. Position papers have been submitted to various government agencies such as the Provincial Government of Sultan Kudarat through the Social Action Center of Marbel with respect to small-scale mining. The Alternative Law Groups, Inc. (ALG) have considered this a priority issue considering the complexity of the problem.
Monocrop Agricultural Plantations
Upsurge in the expansion of monocrop agricultural plantations development in Davao City and other key areas in Mindanaw jeopardizing food security, sustainable development and affecting sectors tenurial instruments. SALIGAN pushes for a passage of Davao City Ordinances that support the following advocacies:
- Moratorium on expansion of agricultural plantations in the uplands
- Sustainable agriculture that pushes for organic farming
- Establishes comprehensive standards relative to plantations (development, labor standards, environmental, health and other aspects included in the Latin American model)
In that regard, SALIGAN Mindanaw works with other environment networks such as the Panaghoy sa Kinaiyahan to propose such legislation before the Davao City Council. It is also aimed that a review Review onerous contracts in existing plantations with respect to labor relations with regard to contractualization issues and with small land owners/ growers on iniquitous contracts on their lands.
Prevalence of blatant violations of environmental crimes such as illegal logging and fishing activities necessitates the need for communities to act directly towards other legal interventions. Towards this end, SALIGAN pushed for the local government’s recognition of paralegal actions as an alternative law enforcement mechanism towards community-based environmental protection strategy. By partnering with the Davao City Council Environment Committee and the Institute for Environmental Governance of the Ateneo de Davao University, the establishment of an environmental paralegal formation program is programmed to complement partners’ work in policy advocacy, environmental education and litigation. With the involvement of academe and local government units in civil society’s effort, community would be able to be directly involved in law enforcement and litigation.
SALIGAN is also active in the execution of the Writ of Kalikasan. In 2010, the Supreme Court
Environmental Impact System
Existing DENR regulations on the issuance of Environmental Compliance Certificates (ECC) have been adjusted to accommodate concerns about being restrictive, thereby diluting provisions on peoples’ participation and consultation mechanisms. Thus, SALIGAN Mindanaw calls for the abolition of DAO 30-2003 and reversion to the previous DAO ensuring peoples’ participation in the consultation mechanisms. Along with other environmental partners such as the Interface Development Intervention, activities include proper implementation of ECCs including the penalty provisions with respect to violations on enforcement and monitoring. Constituency-building has also been conducted through study sessions and other for a pushing for the order’s abolition.