Region 10 LGUs boost knowledge in GPB preparation in first GAD Budget Forum

Over 200 officials from Northern Mindanao provinces and cities participated in the Gender and Development (GAD) Budget Forum for  Local Government Units (LGUs) in Region 10 on November 15, 2021. The activity was held through video conference and livestreamed through the official Facebook page of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Region 10. 

The Philippine Commission on Women (PCW) and the Regional Development Committee-Regional GAD Council (RDC-RGADC) organized the activity to help the LGUs through their GAD Focal Point Systems (GFPS)  become gender-responsive. Present were representatives from Bukidnon, Camiguin, Lanao del Norte, Misamis Oriental, and Misamis Occidental Provinces as well as the chartered cities of Iligan and Cagayan de Oro. It was moderated by RDC-RGADC 10 Co-Chairperson Dr. Chona E. Echavez, Executive Director of the Research Institute for Mindanao Culture (RIMCU).

In his opening remarks, RDC-RGADC 10 Chairperson and Central Mindanao University President Dr. Jesus Antonio Derije offered assistance to requesting individuals on matters pertaining to GAD mandates of the localities.

NEDA 10 Regional Director (RD) Mylah Faye Aurora B. Cariño, CESO III discussed the forum overview. She noted that 2022 is a significant year in terms of LGU budget, since it marks the implementation of the Mandanas ruling, where the Supreme Court held that the just share of LGUs, also known as Internal Revenue Allotment, must be computed based on all national taxes, and not just from National Internal Revenue Taxes. Pursuant to this, budgets of LGUs will increase, which will, in turn, bump up the GAD budget.

“Championing the meaningful participation of women and men in all development processes to attain inclusive development, and addressing the gender-differentiated needs of women and men, girls and boys” is the main objective of the forum, RD Cariño said.

Rosena Sanchez, a member of PCW’s GAD Resource Pool, discussed the Harmonized Gender and Development Guidelines (HGDG). The HGDG  can guide LGUs as they integrate a gender perspective in their programs and projects and address planning, implementation, and monitoring and evaluation of gaps, with the goal being to “make the entire budget gender-responsive.” Sanchez underscored the importance of HGDG in the planning stage and in gender analysis at the community level to ensure meaningful participation of women, “where women take part in decisions.” 

Department of the the Interior and Local Government (DILG) National Capital Region Cluster Head, Alvaro Fabon, elaborated on the Guidelines for the Preparation of LGU GAD Plan and Budget (GPB) and GAD Accomplishment Report (AR) and Completion of the Forms. This covered the gender mainstreaming and planning and development cycle, rationale for GAD Planning and Budgeting, policy imperatives and guide documents, and the steps in completing the GPB and AR forms. The heart of all these, is “addressing the gender issues of clients and the organization”, towards the full implementation of the Magna Carta of Women, according to Fabon.

Meanwhile, Maria Christine M. De Leon, Local Government Operations Officer VI of DILG Region III, provided a detailed session on the Submission, Review and Endorsement of LGU GPBs and GAD ARs. De Leon guided participants in identifying the roles of the DILG as the oversight agency in the localization of the Magna Carta of Women, familiarized them on the submission process of LGU GPBs and GAD ARs, and clarified concerns on the endorsement process of submitted and reviewed LGU GPBs and GAD ARs. She reminded them of the importance of data which allows enhancement or revision of the gender issue/mandate.

Independent Consultant and Former Commission on Audit (COA) Assistant Commissioner Lourdes M. Castillo walked them through the COA Circular 2014-01 or the Revised Guidelines in the Audit of GAD Funds and Activities in Government. Castillo explained the GAD Audit Legal Basis; the Revised Guidelines in the Audit of GAD Funds and Activities; the Updated Guidelines for the Prevention and Disallowances of IIUEEU (COA Circular No. 2012-003), the Checklist of Common Audit Observations in the Audit of GAD Funds (COA Memorandum No. 2018-009), the Sample Expenses that Can and Cannot be Charged against GAD funds, and the Common Audit Findings and Observations in the Audit of GAD Funds. Castillo encouraged participants to view the GAD Audit as a way to help them achieve efficiency and effectiveness in addressing gender issues in their areas of jurisdiction.

After the sessions, the resource persons answered questions from participants, with Ms. Nharleen Santos-Millar, Division Chief of the PCW Technical Services and Regional Coordination Division, joining the panel. Answering the query on whether environmental issues related to lack of knowledge of the vulnerable sector can be included in GAD budget, Ms. Millar clarified that it can definitely be included as long as it is evident in the gender analysis. “This is one reason why we are emphasizing that gender analysis, backed by data or evidence, is very important for all of us,” Millar added.

NEDA 10 Assistant Regional Director (ARD) Leonila G. Cajarte noted several take-aways from the sessions such as the usefulness of the HGDG as a tool; gender analysis as vital; the goal of going beyond mere compliance and  the 5 percent GAD budget; the importance of referring back to guide documents and policies; and the significance of the timeliness in submissions, accurate costing, and compliance with all applicable policies, rules and other documents.

In her Closing Remarks, PCW Executive Director Atty. Kristine Rosary E. Yuzon-Chaves emphasized the critical role of the GPB in achieving gender equality and women’s empowerment. 

“As mandated by the Magna Carta of Women, LGUs are tasked to competently fulfill Gender and Development Planning and Budgeting, which is a main government mechanism to mainstream women and gender concerns in governance” ED Yuzon-Chaves said.

She also told the participants that PCW is looking forward to the time when all LGUs in Region 10 will be able to strengthen their GAD Focal Point Systems, continue the conduct of GAD-related capacity development for all officials and employees, conduct Gender Audit of GAD efforts, sharpen skills on the use of GAD tools, and strategically use the minimum 5 percent GAD Budget to make everything that LGUs  do gender-responsive.

“We hope that you will all continue to sustain strong working relationships with the communities you serve” and “that this forum for LGUs has been informative and helpful”, ED Yuzon-Chaves concluded.