HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES- A member of the House of Representatives calls for the speedy implementation of a law signed in 2019 as a means ofstrengthening delivery mechanisms for LGU development and assistance programs. Bataan 2nd District Representative Jose Enrique S. Garcia III is pushing for a 2021 full roll-out of the Community-Based Monitoring System (CBMS) Act of 2019. Garcia is the principal author of the Act.
The Act mandates all local government units (LGUs) in the country to institutionalize the CBMS in their respective localities. The CBMS is a system of collecting and validating localized socio-economic data. Included in the data are information on households and individuals with corresponding indicators on economic standing and health, among others.
Primarily designed as a local planning tool, Garcia highlights the importance of the system in identifying target beneficiaries for an LGU’s socio-economic programs. “Most of the data we have at the national level is aggregated, meaning it’s mostly at the regional level and above.
With the CBMS, an LGU can have data at the provincial, city, municipal, and even the barangay level that will make it easier for it to design programs that are aligned with the needs of its constituents,” Garcia explains. Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) President Dr. Celia M. Reyes adds that the data generated from the CBMS will also be useful in helping LGUs prepare for and respond to disasters such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Households living in hazard-prone areas can be identified and evacuation plans can be prepared beforehand. In the case of the COVID-19 pandemic, households with members who are more vulnerable (such as the elderly) can be identified and prioritized for government health services,” Reyes stated.
Smoother Coordination between the National Government and LGUs The data generated by the CBMS will also be used by national government agencies (NGAs), consolidating existing information banks and lists serving similar purposes. The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), for example, will be able to use CBMS data for poverty alleviation programs of the agency.
This feature of the law, Garcia believes, will facilitate better coordination between NGAs and LGUs for the roll out of national programs in the regions. “With the CBMS, national programs cascaded to the LGUs will be easier to implement because household data will be synchronized and updated with just one data source,” he shares.
Reyes highlights how this will strengthen the accuracy of beneficiary targeting for social protection programs. In the implementation of the Social Amelioration Program (SAP) of DSWD, for example, Reyes explains that the data generated by the CBMS can provide information on which households have members that belong to the priority beneficiaries identified by the agency. Looking forward to Implementation
The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) is designated as the lead agency for the implementation of the CBMS Act. As the lead agency, PSA will be in charge of setting standards for LGU implementation, monitor data collection initiatives of the LGUs, and act as the national repository of all data collected from the localities. Cities and municipalities are tasked to spearhead data collection efforts in their respective localities.
Provincial Governments, on the other hand, will help consolidate data in coordination with a Provincial Statistician under PSA. While the law is new, Garcia notes that many LGUs have already been implementing their respective CBMS programs in the past through the assistance of organizations such as the CBMS Network and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG). Because of this, he believes it will not be as difficult to implement the new law.
Garcia also believes that there is an opportunity to complement efforts with another PSA-led program, the Philippine Identification System (PhilSys). Enacted under the Philippine Identification System Act, the PhilSys will enroll all Philippine Citizens under a national ID system and integrate existing government-issued IDs.
The registration data under the PhilSys, Garcia explains, will complement data generated under each LGU’s CBMS. An Opportunity for Greater Development Garcia believes that the challenges posed by the country’s string of calamities in 2020 have highlighted the opportunities presented by the CBMS Act and the need to implement it as soon as possible.
“Our current crisis has highlighted the vital role local governance plays in ensuring the development and safety of our constituents. But LGUs cannot act meaningfully without credible data on the ground,” he shares. “A timely implementation of the CBMS Act by 2021 will better prepare our LGUs for future development challenges.”