Leading the Way Toward Energy Efficiency and Conservation in Naga City

In a 2014 study by the World Wide Fund for Nature, it was revealed that Naga City is one of the most calamity-vulnerable cities in the Philippines. Aware of the disastrous effects brought about by global warming and conditioned by the staggering rise of fuel and electricity expenditures of the City Government last 2022, the Sangguniang Panlungsod of Naga enacted City Ordinance 2023-010, also known as the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Ordinance of Naga City, which was approved last February 7, 2023.

This important piece of legislation sets the City Government at the forefront of energy efficiency and conservation efforts primarily through internal governance mechanisms aimed at producing savings of at least 10% in fuel and electricity consumption which translates to about 14 million pesos of available funds which we could use for other social and infrastructure projects of the City for its constituents.

Likewise, the ordinance also adopts energy efficient procurement strategies, including the use of clean and indigenous sources of energy such as solar power and alternative fuel in our facilities and vehicles. This, in effect, will help lessen the emission of greenhouse gases in the City of Naga which is a key driver in climate change.

As to the retrofitting and construction of new buildings, aside from government-owned facilities, commercial and industrial buildings shall then be required to comply with the guidelines issued by the Department of Energy and DPWH on the energy conserving design of buildings which will allow the big players in the private sector to do their fair share in promoting a healthier and greener environment.

The challenge, as one City Government Official put it, is in the implementation. The challenge, with the City Government leading by example, is for the private sector, down to every Nagueño household to reciprocate this initiative. The impact of the efforts we do today will not be immediate but the bottomline is a future we will all only realize if we, altogether, act today. A future we will all thank ourselves for.. because we all did our part.

Raising the Bar for People Participation in Naga’s Legislative Process

On the 25th year of partnership between the Naga City People’s Council and the Naga City Government, various stakeholders, both from the public and private sector, convened to answer one question: “Papano ta mas papakusugon an marhay na pag gobernar sa Syudad kan Naga?” (How do we further strengthen good governance in the City of Naga?)

Led by students of the Ateneo Law – Naga under their clinical legal education program, the original draft of a proposed ordinance promoting individual citizens’ participation in Naga’s legislative process was introduced to the 13th Sangguniang Panlungsod of Naga. After numerous consultations and revisions which continued to the 14th Sanggunian, Naga City Ordinance 2023-004 or the “I-Engage Ordinance” was finally enacted and approved on January 30, 2023. What is it all about and why should every Nagueño be excited about it?

Since the People Empowerment Ordinance of 1995, participation in Naga’s legislative process was confined to sectoral representative within the committees of the Naga City Council. For one to be able to take part in the committee deliberations, one should belong to an accredited organization and be duly elected to represent the Naga City People’s Council in the legislative committee. With the I-Engage Ordinance, individual citizens, without being members of accredited organizations, may now take part in the legislative process by providing for feedback mechanisms using social media, the Naga City Website, e-mail, and other ICT means.

Limited information also means limited participation. Which is why, in contrast to the posting of few selected ordinances in the City’s website, the I-Engage Ordinance now requires the posting of ALL proposed and approved resolutions and ordinances in the City’s website in a searchable PDF file. What this means is a more transparent, engaging and responsive legislature; and with proposed measures posted for feedback, Nagueños will be able to convey their comments and suggestions at the critical stages of legislation during committee discussions.

The Local Government Code provides that “no ordinance or resolution shall be considered on second reading in any regular meeting unless it has been reported out by the proper committee to which it was referred..”. Recognizing that so much of legislation is shaped outside of the regular session of the City Council, the I-Engage Ordinance now mandates the livestreaming, not just of regular sessions of the Sanggunian, but also of all committee hearings and public hearings that will be conducted henceforth.

The message to Nagueños is crystal clear. Every citizen has a stake to the policies that are being enacted. Legislation provides the framework of the roles and function of the executive branch. Legislation determines how public funds are spent. With furthering participation in the City’s legislative process, we can ensure a government that truly responds to the needs and aspirations of the people.

Energy Efficiency and Conservation in Naga City

Privilege Speech delivered during the 18th Regular Session of the 14th Sangguniang Panlungsod of Naga

            Our Acting Presiding Officer, Hon. Jessie Albeus, dear colleagues in the Sanggunian, friends and those watching online, good morning!       

              It may not be apparent but there is a direct connection between using energy and the environment. The increase in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is a key driver in climate change; and one of the largest contributing factors worldwide is the production and consumption of energy. When one becomes mindful and consumes less energy, the practice cuts down the toxic fumes or emissions released by power plants. Likewise, the habit helps preserve the earth’s identity by conserving natural resources and protecting ecosystems from destruction. Put simply, taking steps to reduce one’s energy intake contributes to a healthier and sustainable world.

            As aptly put by the Secretary of the Climate Change Commission (CCC), “energy efficiency is the easiest and often cheapest way to reduce the need for expansion of coal power generation. And with the country’s energy demand projected to increase by 80% from 2017 to 2040, improving energy efficiency in the building sector would be our best course to reduce emmissions.

          The glaring impact of high prices of imported fuels to local markets and the direct effect of climate change induced disasters and calamities has put local governments units at a crucial role of helping secure sufficiency and stability of energy supply in the country by the promotion of the efficient and judicious utilization of energy, including renewable energy technologies, thereby protecting the environment within their territorial jurisdictions.

          Appropriate interventions in the City Government’s consumption of energy could not materialize if there is no internal governance in energy usage in its offices and facilities.  Thus, with the framework established under Republic Act No. 11285 or “An Act Institutionalizing Energy Efficiency and Conservation, Enhancing the Efficient Use of Energy, and Granting Incentives to Energy Efficiency and Conservation Projects” in 2018 and in furtherance of the implementation of the aforesaid law and its mandated responsibilities upon the City Government of Naga, I have submitted for first reading this morning a proposed ordinance establishing mechanisms to promote energy efficiency and conservation in the City of Naga.

          Through this proposed policy and its proposed investments, the City Government will send a clear message that it wants to lead by example, through fiscal and managerial responsibility, where both the City leadership and personnel are fully committed in supporting energy efficiency and conservation programs, minimizing environmental impacts through the use of renewable energy, and, as said earlier, do its part to contribute to a healthier and sustainable world.

Commemorating the 50th Year of the Colgante Bridge Tragedy

Privilege Speech during the 10th Regular Session of the 14th Sangguniang Panlungsod held September 13, 2022.

Our Presiding Officer, Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen.. Good morning!

This coming Friday, September 16, marks the 50th year of the Colgante Bridge Tragedy, a disastrous event which led to the death of some 140 pilgrims and devotees during the Peñafrancia Fluvial Procession in 1972. 

With this, dear colleagues, I am proposing for the rededication of a historical marker at the site of the Colgante Bridge and assigning the Arts, Culture and Tourism Office as the lead office for the City Government of Naga to realize this initiative.    

Though it is rarely mentioned in conversations nowadays and the tragedy happened 30 years before I was born, I believe it is imperative for this generation to look back at this historic event in our City, no matter how unpleasant, if only to learn from the lessons, such as the City Government’s responsibility in providing for safe and responsive public works and facilities, and give respect to the memory of those who have perished.

A Historical Marker will not only spark our community’s interest in our local history but, more so, further reflect the importance the City Government of Naga places on its heritage and its commitment that Nagueños shall never again suffer from defective conditions of our public works.          

For this purpose, a resolution is being proposed by this representation, to emphasize the City Government of Naga’s duty to commemorate important events in our past, both tragedy and triumph, for it is only in doing so can we truly appreciate, celebrate, and continue our spirited pursuit for improvement.        

Waste Reduction and Environmental Responsibility for the 2022 Peñafrancia Fiesta

Authorship Speech during the 7th Regular Session of the 14th Sangguniang Panlungsod.

Madam Presiding Officer, fellow members of the Sanggunian, guests, and those watching online – a pleasant morning to all!

Things are looking very exciting for the upcoming celebration of the 2022 Peñafrancia Fiesta. Especially, since it’s been two years since we last had a full-blown festive week. Data, however, from the Solid Waste Management Office, shows that this week-long celebration produces up to 250 tons/day of garbage collection, more than double the average regular garbage collection of 95 tons/day; thus, becoming a source of vast amounts of waste, with many fiesta participants unaware of its grave impact to our environment. Ang basura po saro sa mga dakulang ginagastusan kan Syudad bako lang pag Fiesta, pero all throughout the year.

Is there something that the City Government should do about this or should we just let it be? Upon the suggestion of some concerned citizens, a resolution is being proposed, by this representation, to be included under our Special Business or Order aimed at promoting environmental responsibility in the celebration of the 2022 Peñafrancia Fiesta and urging the collaborative commitment of the City Government of Naga, the Archdiocese of Caceres, the business sector, and civil society groups.

True – there will be inconvenience, some may say that this is too radical of an approach; but environmental concerns are our moral obligation to address and should be beyond the issues of comfort and convenience. Dear colleagues, the policies towards this objective are already in place. Such as the Plastic Bag Regulatory Ordinance and so many others as early as the 1990s during the time of Former Councilor Sim Adan. What we simply lack is the strict enforcement and implementation. But if we can set ourselves, the City Government as examples towards this advocacy, only then can we will be more effective implementers and policy-makers.

If key players in this Peñafrancia Fiesta would lead in this advocacy and be good examples in the reinforcement of waste reduction measures by, among others: encouraging reusables, adjusting food and consumption delivery systems, and strictly prohibiting single-use plastics/packaging/decorations, I am optimistic that we will greatly reduce our garbage and further promote the people’s right to a balanced and healthful ecology.  

Directive to the CSO Desk Officer to lead the inventory and compliance with DILG M.C. No. 2022-083

Privilege Speech of the Hon. Ghiel G. Rosales during the 2nd Regular Session of the 14th Sangguniang Panlungsod

Madam Presiding Officer, Vice Mayor Nene De Asis, Fellow City Councilors, guests, friends, good morning!

Last June 15, 2022, the DILG issued Memorandum Circular No. 2022-083 to provide guidelines on the accreditation of Civil Society Organizations and the selection of representatives to the Local Special Bodies. We had the matter referred to the SP Committee on People Empowerment for consideration and for it to recommend such appropriate actions.

Dear colleagues, the said memorandum circular issued last month is already very instructive as to the conduct of the inventory of Civil Society Organizations in the City of Naga and the important role of the CSO Desk Officer in the over-all accreditation process and, in general, the promotion of active participation of the private sector in local governance.

Through Executive Order 2021-003, the City Government had already established the CSO Desk Office and its Officer to execute the mandates under the said Memorandum Circular and spearhead the handling of all CSO-related concerns of the City Government, including the implementation of the relevant provisions of the People Empowerment Ordinance.

With this at hand, Madam Chair, and on the basis of DILG MC 2022-083, I am proposing two measures this morning:

First, the passage of a resolution directing the CSO Desk Officer to conduct an inventory of CSOs in the City of Naga for the update of the CSO Directory and further directing the CSO Desk Office to be at the forefront of the City’s compliance with the guidelines provided under the said DILG Memorandum Circular as to the accreditation of Civil Society Organizations;

Second, the refiling of my proposed ordinance on the establishment of a CSO Desk at the Jesse M. Robredo Center for Good Governance, defining its purpose and functions, mandating the designation of the CSO Desk Officer, and providing funds thereof.

In closing, I express and extend my full support to the 14th Sanggunian’s Chairman of the People Empowerment Committee, Hon. Gayle Abonal-Gomez. We had short meeting yesterday, where I had an opportunity to brief the good councilor on the status of Civil Society Organizations with the NCPC and the City’s efforts to continuously encourage them to take part in local governance. I know that under her leadership in the committee, the City of Naga will continue to be the trailblazer on people participation and good governance.

Authorship Speech on the Proposed Ordinance Regulating the Charging of, Against the Current Appropriatons, Prior Year Expenditures

(Delivered during the 140th Regular Session of the Sangguniang Panlungsod held on May 31, 2022)

The Honorable Presiding Officer, Cecilia Veluz-De Asis, fellow members of the Sanggunian, City Youth Counterparts, friends and those watching online, a pleasant morning to all.

Year in and year out, the City Government of Naga, the Sangguniang Panlungsod, in particular, encounter frequent adjustments in various budget items, thus, reducing the credibility of the Annual Budget. One of those perennial practices is the unregulated charging of prior years’ obligations and expenditures to the current appropriation, by mere resolution, which results in the depletion of funds for the current year’s operations and overstatement of expenses that affect the fair presentation of the financial statements of the City Government.

In the Appropriations Committee, we are often faced with such requests without complete supporting documents or at least any guidance on what we should require to ensure that government procurement policies and processes are complied with at the time the expenditures and obligations were incurred, leaving us to decide on mere discretions depending on justifications made by offices concerned.

Thus, to further safeguard public funds, there is a need to enforce fiscal discipline by prescribing, by way of ordinance, clear guidelines and requisites prior to the issuance of authority by the Sangguniang Panlungsod and strengthen adherence of the City Government of Naga to:

  1. Sec. 305(a) of R.A. 7160: “No money shall be spent out of the local treasury except in pursuance of an appropriations ordinance or law.”;
  2. Sec. 350 of R.A. 7160: “All lawful expenditures and obligations incurred during a fiscal year shall be taken up in the accounts of that year.”;
  3. The Accrual Basis of Government Accounting which helps ensure that expenditure of public funds is transparent, public officials are held accountable, and future liabilities are recognized and planned properly.

With barely five sessions left before the 13th Sangguniang Panlungsod finally adjourns, I know this might be a hard sell – but I humbly dedicate this proposed measure to our three graduating colleagues and my mentors from whom I will continuously be drawing inspiration from as I continue my journey with the 14th Sangguniang Panlungsod.

The Co-Chairman of the Appropriations Committee, the Honorable Greg Abonal, whose constant guidance and uprightness had always made me feel like a high school student and him, still our high school principal;

The Honorable Mila Raquid-Arroyo, whom I have always admired for her courage and eloquence, whose lonely voice in the wilderness of this august chamber will surely be missed;

And of course, the Honorable Elmer Baldemoro, whom I have often looked up to as a big brother here in the Sanggunian and from whom we will be hearing more from as the next City Administrator of the City of Naga.

Thank you, dear colleagues. I will always be grateful for this chance to work with such good examples.  As I end, in realization of the 3 years that is about to conclude, allow me to quote this poem from the prominent French missionary – Etienne de Grellet:

“I expect to pass this way but once; any good therefore that I can do, or any kindness that I can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.”   

Improved IT Systems towards Good Governance

Privilege Speech of the Hon. Ghiel G. Rosales (Regular Session held January 5, 2021)

Why do we need an updated, functional and reliable website and not just a Facebook page? Our website should be the backbone of our online presence and social media should only be there to support our website and not take its place. We want people to access our Facebook Page and then click over to our website where they can browse through our services and learn more about why our City is so amazing.

A functional and updated website gives the City Government more credibility than a social media page that is why I suggest we should invest more in it.

In 2001, Naga City launched the I-Governance Program as one of the measures to promote people participation in governance particularly through information technology. In 2002, the Sangguniang Panlungsod enacted the “I-Governance Ordinance of Naga City” to institutionalize the said program with the Naga City Website and the Naga City Citizen’s Charter as its main components.

Based on an article which I have read, the I-gov has resulted to Naga being chosen by the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry as the “Most Business-Friendly City” in the Philippines in 2002. In the same year, the City was selected by the DILG as the regional model for its Anti-Red Tape Campaign; and I’m sure that there were other awards because of the initiative.

The I-governance Ordinance, under Section 6 thereof, declares that the City Government commits to update the City’s website to ensure the relevance of the information contained therein. However, despite the City’s Annual Appropriations for the implementation of the I-governance Program which is under the Office of the City Administrator, I have good reason to argue that the Naga City Website badly needs an update, if not an upgrade, for the following observations:

  1. The latest AIP posted in our website is the 2015 AIP;
  2. The search button is not working or functional to make site navigation easier for clients;
  3. The latest Annual Procurement Plan posted is that of 2013;
  4. Research on resolutions and ordinances is very difficult to do;
  5. News and programs are no longer updated;
  6. And many more..

How can we proudly say that we are “The Center of Good Governance” when we know that if someone goes to our website to look for an ordinance or research on budget matters, they would find an outdated and dysfunctional one? For us to continue to claim our place in transparency and accountability, I say its about time we should do something about this.

Madam Chair, members of the City Council, I stand in privilege to propose two measures:

First, the inclusion in our next oversight meeting of the implementation of City Ordinance 2002-063 or the I-governance Ordinance; and

Second, to direct the Naga City IT Advisory Board as created under City Ordinance 2020-050 to immediately convene and finalize the preparation of the Information Systems Strategic Plan, as mandated, and for approval by the Sangguniang Panlungsod of Naga.

Dear colleauges, for good governance to continue to thrive in Naga City we must invest in and strengthen our IT systems.   

Authorship Speech on the Proposed 2022 NCCDC Ordinance

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.

              In our agenda for first reading this morning is a proposed ordinance, by this representation, further updating the guidelines on the structure, organization and operation of the Naga City Cooperatives Development Council (NCCDC).

              The Naga City Cooperatives Development Council, first created through City Ordinance 1995-049, had already undergone several amendments to conform to issuances by the Cooperatives Development Authority, the last of which being City Ordinance 2015-002 based on CDA MC 2013-01.

              Last February 2, 2022, the CDA issued MC 2022-03 to provide updated guidelines on the structure, organization, and operation of Cooperative Development Councils. The said MC repealed the 2013 issuance from which City Ordinance 2015-002 is based; therefore necessitating legislative action that would conform the operation of the Naga City Cooperatives Development Council to the CDA’s latest issuance.

              The salient points of the updated guidelines where this proposed ordinance is patterned provide that:

  1. The Chairperson of the City Development Council, our City Mayor, shall now automatically act as Honorary Chairperson of the Naga City Cooperative Development Council but with an actual Chairperson serving upon election by majority vote of all the members constituting the council;
  2. The CDA representative shall be a member but cannot be elected as an officer of the Council;
  3. The terms of office of the elected officers of the council shall be for two years and they cannot be elected for more than two consecutive terms;
  4. The Members of the NCCDC shall no longer be required to submit to accreditation by the Sangguniang Panlungsod as a prerequisite for membership in the Cooperatives Development Council; and
  5. The inclusion of prohibited acts and activities upon the NCCDC such as: undertaking of any fundraising and/or income generating activity, registering with any government agency for the purpose of acquiring juridical personality, and engaging in activities other than those allowed under R.A. 11364, its IRR, and CDA MC 2022-03.

              As chairman of the Committee on Cooperatives, I expect these updates to further clarify and strengthen the role of the Naga City Cooperative Development Council as a multi-sectoral body created to provide a system with regard to policy consultation and coordination of programs and projects for cooperatives development in the City of Naga and reinforcing the City Government’s commitment of promoting the viability and growth of cooperatives as instruments of equity, social justice, and economic development.

Recommendations for the Effectivity and Responsiveness of Barangay Budgets

(Letter dated May 25, 2020 and addressed to the City Mayor and Sangguniang Panlungsod)

Dear Mayor and the Honorable Members of the Sangguniang Panglungsod,

Through Resolution No. 2020-003 which was approved on January 7, 2020, the Special Committee on Barangay Budgets was created to ensure the approval of the 2020 Barangay Budgets within the first quarter of the year. The said Special Committee was also given the task of submitting its assessment and recommended measures to the City Mayor and the Sanggunian to assist Barangays’ future compliance in the submission of effective and responsive Barangay Budgets for approval by the Sangguniang Panlungsod.

In light of the foregoing, the following findings with specific recommendations are submitted by the undersigned, with the concurrence of the members of the Special Committee on Barangay Budgets, for consideration and appropriate action:

  1. At the onset of this initiative, it was already known that even with the conduct of previous trainings and seminars by different government agencies (DILG, COA, City Government) to assist Barangays in the crafting of their Annual Budget, Barangays still find technical difficulty due to the absence of a readily available, uniform, and user-friendly guide for Barangay Officials involved in the preparation of the Annual Budget.

With this, it is recommended for the Sangguniang Panlungsod of Naga to commission the Special Committee on Barangay Budgets to produce a simplified and localized Barangay Budgeting Manual to be distributed to the barangays in hard and soft copies and which will incorporate all the necessary guidance needed by Barangay Officials in the planning, preparation, execution, and review of their Annual Budgets.

  • The Special Committee also found out that the challenge was not only on the technical aspect of the budget preparation. Many barangays prepare their budgets in disregard of the ideal process of convening Barangay Development Councils to formulate long-term plans and regularly taking the pains of an institutional, honest-to-goodness, consultative approach in their Annual and Supplemental Investment Plans.

Section 305 of the Local Government Code provides that “local government budgets shall operationalize the approved local development plans”. Without the priority programs and projects embodied in the plans endorsed by Barangay Development Councils, there is no basis for the programming of funds and therefore no basis for budgeting.

Therefore, it is suggested that the City Government, through the technical assistance of the City Planning and Development Office, in coordination with the Liga ng mga Barangay and the Naga City People’s Council, formulate an action plan to strengthen efforts aimed at consistently monitoring and assisting barangays in organizing and empowering their respective Barangay Development Councils.

Likewise, for them to formulate a barangay development plan and investment program based on consultations with representatives of the key sectors in the barangays, preferably with the participation of new faces residing in the barangay.  The said agencies shall, thereafter, inform the City Mayor and the Sangguniang Panlungsod of suggested legislative measures, if any; and the PPAs it shall initiate for inclusion, if necessary, in the City’s Development Plan and Budget.

  • Minor amendments in the People’s Budget Ordinance should also be considered specifying how the SK Budgets are to be reviewed separately by the Sangguniang Panlungsod in pursuance of the SK Reform Act of 2015 enjoining financial independence of the operations, disbursements and encashment of funds, income and expenditures of the Sangguniang Kabataan.

The DBM-DILG-National Youth Commission JMC No. 1 dated January 23, 2019 has already provided the “Guidelines on the Appropriation, Release, Planning and Budgeting Process for the SK Funds”. Paragraph of the Guidelines specifically provides that “The SK secretary shall submit the SK annual/supplemental budget to the sangguniang panlungsod or sangguniang bayan, through the city/municipal budget officer, within ten (10) days upon the approval thereof.”

  • Furthermore, the People’s Budget Ordinance which lays out the guidance and pre-requisites in the approval of Barangay Budgets must be consistently and strictly implemented, giving emphasis to the compliance of Barangays with the Indicative Budget Calendar and the possible administrative and criminal liability imposable upon Punong Barangays who fail to submit the budget as provided under Section 318 of R.A. No. 7160 and other applicable laws.

Due to the unfortunate occurrence of COVID19 which imposed strict quarantine measures all over the country since mid-March causing unprecedented changes in government priorities, we regret to inform that there are still 7 barangays operating under a reenacted budget as of May 20, 2020. However, with the government offices almost back to normal and the full cooperation of the Technical Working Group, we were assured that all Barangay Budgets will be endorsed for approval within this month, making way for the preparation and planning for next year’s Barangay Budgets in time. Thank you for your consideration.

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