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Raising the bar for people participation in Naga’s legislative process

By Oying Rosales

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.

The people behind the I-Engage Ordinance. Professors and students from Ateneo Law - Naga, City Government Officials from the Sanggunian and the JMR Center for Good Governance.

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.


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