Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Benjamin ‘Benhur’ Abalos Jr.  (File photo by Joey Razon)

MANILA – Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Benjamin ‘Benhur’ Abalos Jr. on Sunday urged disaster-stricken local government units (LGUs) to access PHP5.58-billion financial assistance to fund their recovery process under the Local Government Support Fund-Financial Assistance (LGSF-FA) on or before Sept. 30.

“Calamities and disasters are realities that we are accustomed to. Hence, the government continues to find ways to assist disaster-stricken LGUs through the LGSF-FA. We recognize that our LGUs need our help kaya naman (that's why) we urge them to take advantage of the financial assistance LGSF-FA has to offer,” Abalos said in a statement.

The DILG chief said LGUs greatly affected by weather disturbances and disasters that occurred this 2022 must grab this opportunity and support offered under the LGSF-FA to augment their budget resources, ensure smooth implementation of their projects, and most importantly, recover from the destruction the disasters caused.

He said this move is timely and apt given that there are provinces, cities and municipalities that are still recovering from Severe Tropical Storm “Florita” and the magnitude 7.0 earthquake that hit Northern Luzon in July.

“Ito ay tulong pinansyal para sa ating mga LGU upang sila ay makaagapay at makabawi sa pinsala na idinulot ng mga kalamidad sa kanilang lugar (This is financial assistance for our LGUs so that they can cope with and recover from the damage caused by the calamities in their area). This is the government’s way to ensure that immediate assistance is extended to them,” Abalos said.

He also emphasized that new requests submitted beyond Sept. 30 will be automatically returned to the requesting LGU without any action as the department will endorse all eligible and compliant requests to the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) immediately after the deadline.

In a recent advisory, he said that to avail of the LGSF-FA, interested LGUs must prepare and submit the Special Budget Request (SBR) signed by the local chief executive to the DILG with supporting documents. If applicable, a certification proving that undisbursed balances from 2016 to 2020 LGSF-FA have been returned to the National Treasury must likewise be submitted.

He underscored that LGUs must ensure that utmost priority is given to programs and projects that are related to disaster response, rehabilitation and recovery.

“We call on our mayors and governors to focus the allocation and utilization of the LGSF-FA on rehabilitation, reconstruction and rebuilding programs in order to lead their localities to sustainable recovery. Hinihiling namin na gamitin n’yo ang pondong ito para sa mga proyekto na makatutulong sa pagbangon ng inyong bayan (We ask you to use this fund for projects that will help in the recovery of your locality).

He also clarified that the limit for LGUs set by DBM will not apply to calamity-stricken LGUs as the DILG will be the one to determine the allowable amount of allocation for qualified LGUs.

In the evaluation of requests, he explained that the DILG will base the amount per beneficiary LGU on the proportionate amount of damages incurred on infrastructure and agriculture as reflected in the Situational Reports of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) and the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s (DSWD) Disaster Response Operations Monitoring and Information Center (DROMIC) Report.

Abalos said that initially, LGSF-FA can only be used by recipient provinces, cities, municipalities and barangays for their infrastructure and repair programs and other projects under Special Provision No. 2 of the LGSF in the 2022 GAA.

But with the DBM’s amendment to its Local Budget Circular 142, the said fund was made available to disaster-affected LGUs, he noted.

Among agencies with highest resolution rate

Meanwhile, the DILG has ranked fourth in the Top 10 government agencies with the highest resolution rate of public complaints from January to June 2022 as reported by the Civil Service Commission’s Contact Center ng Bayan (CSC-CCB)

With a resolution rate of 88.24 percent or 15 out of 17 complaints lodged before the CCB resolved for the first half of the year, Abalos said the DILG takes pride in providing necessary assistance to the public and acting on public feedback in compliance with the number of days required under Republic Act 11032 of the Ease of Doing Business and Efficient Government Service Delivery Act of 2018.

“While this recognition serves as a testimony of the DILG’s commitment to performing our duties and responsibilities, we vow to persistently advance participatory governance and transparency as we pursue the fulfillment of our mandate,” he said. “We will continue to provide easy access channels for the public to reach the government and express their concerns to genuinely and directly address their needs at the grassroots.”

Abalos said the DILG shall ensure the effective and efficient delivery of basic services to achieve their clients’ satisfaction as they uphold our core values of integrity, commitment, teamwork, and responsiveness.

“Asahan ninyo na magpapatuloy ang DILG sa pagtupad ng aming mandato na makapagbigay ng matino, mahusay at maaasahang serbisyo para sa ikabubuti ng ating mga pamayanan at ng bawat Pilipino (Expect that the DILG will continue to fulfill our mandate to provide efficient and reliable services for the good of our communities and every Filipino),” he said.

The CCB is a facility that provides easy access channels for the public to reach the government and express their feedback and other concerns on service delivery. It receives complaints on government offices’ non-conformance with their respective Citizen’s Charters; requests for assistance on pending requests and applications; queries on procedures and requirements; suggestions for further improvement of systems and processes; and commendation/appreciation of efficient service.

Republic Act 11032 or the Ease of Doing Business and Efficient Government Service Delivery Act of 2018 requires the inclusion of the CCB as part of the complaints mechanism in the Citizen’s Charter of every government agency. (PNA)