The sustained good health governance agenda of the Local Government Unit (LGU) of Tacurong City paved way for it to be declared as 2019 Champion for Health Governance (CHG), making it three times in a row, and subsequently holding the rare distinction as the first LGU Hall of Fame awardee.
Tacurong is in a league of its own by also winning the biennial award in 2015 and 2017. The city was the first back-to-back winner since the institutionalization of CHG in 2013.
Vice President Leni Robredo led the conferment of the award to five winning LGUs in a ceremony held on Wednesday at the Office of the Vice President in New Manila, Quezon City.
Mayor Lina Montilla and City Health Officer Giovanni Deles received the award in behalf of the city. Aside from plaques, the city received a cash incentive worth P100 thousand to be used for health-related programs.
In her keynote speech, Vice President Robredo congratulated the finalists and the awardees for their exemplary efforts in making health programs a priority.
“The success of the universal health care program depends on how we implement and capacitate our people on the ground. Your good practices could one day be turned into policies and these could one day become the norm that would benefit countless others beyond your constituencies”, Robredo said.
Among the LGU’s best practices in health was the enactment of an ordinance that institutionalizes the protection and giving of incentives to barangay health workers who have been in the frontline of extending services to the public. The ordinance provides that BHWs who have reached five years of continuous service may be granted with Civil Service eligibility.
Another best practice of Tacurong is requiring all pregnant women to give birth only in birthing homes or health care facilities. This resulted to the reduction of maternal and child death in the city.
Mayor Montilla said that the latest recognition received by the city is a result of collaboration and teamwork of all members of the LGU whose common thrust is to serve our people and ensuring that no one is left behind when it comes to the delivery of all government services.
“We are bound to serve our constituents well and we are being paid to do our jobs better”, Mayor Montilla said. “This award manifests that we are on the right track of serving our people”.
Aside from Tacurong, other national winners are Kidapawan City, Vigan City, San Felipe in Zambales, and Cabatuan in Iloilo Province.
CHG is an initiative that recognizes top performing LGUs for excellent and efficient implementation of their local health programs, in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal of ensuring healthy lives and promotion of well-being for all ages.
Already in its fourth run, CHG Awards is organized by the Kaya Natin Movement for Good Governance and Ethical Leadership, Jesse Robredo Foundation, Association of Municipal Health Officers of the Philippines, and Merck Sharp and Dohme Pharmaceuticals (MSD) with support from the Department of Interior and Local Government, and Department of Health.
How did Tacurong get here?
As per guidelines of the selection process, entries from all over the Philippines were assessed for compliance according to CHG’s eligibility criteria. A total of 36 entries were approved by the secretariat to undergo the first level screening.
The entries then underwent a “thorough and rigorous process” to determine the top ten entries. Tacurong City’s entry made a good impression and was selected as one of the top ten LGU finalists.
Other finalists were the following: San Felipe in Zambales, Vigan City in Ilocos Sur, San Gabriel in La Union, Kapangan in Benguet, and San Remigio in Cebu Province.
Meanwhile, three towns of Iloilo province also made the cut: Mina, Cabatuan, and Concepcion. Kidapawan City is the only LGU in Region 12 to join Tacurong in the list of finalists.
After the selection of finalists, site evaluation followed. Members of CHG team validated the health programs and good governance practices of the top ten LGUs. Mayors, local health officers, and ordinary constituents were interviewed.
Some of the interviewees during their visit to Tacurong on April 23 were Vice Mayor Joseph Lechonsito, City Health Officer Deles, employees involved in the programs, and customers/clients.
Mayor Montilla was not around during the site visit as she was in Cebu City receiving her award as Most Outstanding City Mayor of the Philippines in championing social welfare and development programs.
Meanwhile, the last step before choosing the five national winners was the panel interview with the mayors and local health officers on May 28 in Quezon City. Mayor Montilla was given 20 minutes to present the LGU’s health programs as well as innovations in governance. After the presentation she and Health Officer Deles answered several questions and clarifications from the panel.
The panel of interviewers included former Mayor Mary Jane Ortega of Kaya Natin, President of Association of Municipal Health Officers of the Philippines Dr. Clemencia Bondoc, Dr. Josephine Bundoc of Jesse Robredo Foundation, Atty. Odilon Pasaraba of DILG, and Dr. Enrique Tayag of the DOH.
By getting the Hall of Fame Award, Tacurong will no longer be eligible to submit CHG entry in the fifth installment of CHG Awards in 2021.
Mayor Montilla committed that the LGU will be more than willing to help other LGUs that would like to replicate its health programs and other good governance practices.
As Vice President Robredo stated, “one day, a young mayor from another town could chance upon your programs and be inspired to begin something on his own.”
“It is my hope that you share your good practices and passion with other local leaders so that we may serve more of our kababayans on the ground”, Robredo said.(ASFreno, LGU Information)