A total of 1,373 towns nationwide will benefit from P11.71-billion worth of projects under the Assistance to Municipalities (AM) program of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).
This year, DILG OIC-Secretary Eduardo M. Ano announces that the AM program now includes local bridges, disaster risk reduction-related equipment, rain water catchment facilities, sanitation and health facilities, and municipal drug rehabilitation facility.
“Ang programang AM ay parang Ayuda sa mga Munisipalidad. It is cognizant of the need to further enable municipalities in carrying out functions devolved to them while at the same time, building their capacity towards genuine fiscal autonomy,” explains Ano.
The AM program seeks to equitably assist all municipalities in the delivery of basic services by providing financial subsidy to municipalities for the implementation of their priority programs and projects.
In 2017, the program previously called Assistance to Disadvantaged Municipalities (ADM) only covered local access roads, water system projects, evacuation facilities and water impounding projects.
“The DILG is always geared towards responsive governance. The expansion of menu of AM projects is in line with the identified needs of municipalities indicated in their Local Development Investment Plans,” he says.
In DILG Memorandum Circular (MC) No. 2018-61, the DILG Chief points out that while the fund will be released directly from the national government thru the Bureau of Treasury to municipal governments after complying with the requirements of the DILG, municipalities shall be accountable for the overall implementation of AM projects.
He also explains that the release of funds is subject to the compliance of the concerned municipalities with the requirements of the DILG Seal of Good Financial Housekeeping, functionality of a town’s Local Development Council, and requisites of Public Financial Management (PFM) systems and adoption of the corresponding PFM measures.
Budget allocation for municipalities is determined based on equal share, fiscal capacity, per-capita share, and share for good performance.
“The deadline for compliance with the requirements shall be until June 30, 2018. Funds for the non-compliant municipalities shall no longer be released,” Ano states.
Transparency of AM projects
According to the DILG Chief, mechanisms are laid down in the guidelines to make way for public information and transparency of AM projects.
Within a month after receipt of the AM fund, a municipal government shall use its own local fund as counterpart in installing a Community Billboard within the premises of its municipal hall and ensure regular monthly updating of the project status in the billboard. A municipality shall also install project signboards at each project location.
A local government is also required to post quarterly reports on its official website for a period of three years.
“Civil society organizations may also actively participate in the implementation by way of Municipal Development Council Project Monitoring, being an observer in the procurement process, and being a third party in monitoring and evaluation,” he says.
Ano warns that projects not implemented in accordance with DILG MC No. 2018-61 including all other applicable laws may result in non-inclusion or disqualification of a municipality in the future national government assistance.