The House of Representatives has approved the creation of a People’s Council in every local government unit as a way to provide a mechanism by which citizens’ views and opinions in different areas of governance may be heard and considered.
The chamber approved on third and final reading House Bill 7950 or the People Empowerment Act by a 217-0 vote. The bill is principally authored by Speaker Lord Allan Jay Velasco, and Reps. Florida Robes, also chairperson of the House Committee on People’s Participation which tackled the bill, Gabriel Bordado Jr., Francis Gerald Abaya, Alfonso Umali Jr., Rosanna Vergara, Yasser Alonto Balindong, Solomon Chungalao, Macnell Lusotan and Manuel Cabochan III.
Under the bill, a People’s Council shall be created in every local government unit. Its members shall be composed of civil society organizations (CSOs) that will be accredited by the local Sanggunian upon proof of submission of several requirements which include proof of existence for at least one year, proof of activities, list of membership, officers, among others.
The People’s Council shall also elect among themselves their representatives to all local government bodies, boards, councils, committees, task forces, special government bodies and other similar work groups which the local government or national laws may create. They may participate in the conceptualization and evaluation of government activities, activities, and programs of the LGU, propose legislation and participate at the committee level of the local Sanggunian.
The bills also create a Provincial People’s Council (PPC) in every province which shall be composed of representatives from the municipality and city People’s Council within the province’s jurisdiction. Members of the city and municipal council shall elect among themselves a representative to the PPC who shall sit as member of the Sanggunian Panlalawigan and shall exercise the duties and powers of a Provincial Board member.
They, however, will not receive compensation and prohibited from participating in partisan politics. The LGU is nevertheless mandated to provide them with necessary office spaces, facilities, and equipment.
Pursuant to the Constitution, the CSOs are recognized as independent and autonomous self-help organizations, encouraged to organize into formal cooperatives, interest groups, non-governmental organizations, among others to pursue their legitimate purposes and objectives.
The bill also creates an endowment fund from the existing empowerment fund of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) that will be used for the capacity building of CSOs. The LGU shall also provide for the maintenance and operational funding for the People’s Council.
The bill also provides for a sunset review every five years to review and recommend amendments after evaluating the problems and issues in its implementation.
Robes expressed gratitude to the passage of the bill in the lower saying “it will make civil society organizations more involved in local governance and create stronger partnership between the government and private sector and create an environment can participate in policy and decision-making processes countrywide.”