The 1991 Local Government Cede providesenonnous opportunities for partnerships between citizens' organizations and local government Among other things, the Code promotes such partnerships by requiring NGO and PO representation in local special bodies and strengthening their role in the local development councils. Unfortunately, many jurisdictions have barely begun to make this participation truly meaningful. The municipality of Calumpit, however, has invested heavily in such partnerships, and this work has begun to payoff in the form of a better quality of life for its people.
In Calumpit, the LGU-NGO Partnership Program was born in 1988 out of a need to bring together all sectors to achieve more equitable distribution of wealth and self-sufficiency and to transform the municipality into an agro-industrial town by the year 2000. The municipal government brought several innovations into its efforts to make the Municipal Development Council a catalyst, resource mobilizer, and development implementor as well as the municipality's key planning body. First, it expanded the MDC's membership by creating working committees and increasing the participation by members of the Sanggunian Bayan. Second, it learned from existing successful initiatives in economic development started by Calumpit-based NGOs and the United Pulp and Paper Company, and urged their replication during capability-building programs for every barangay captain.
These innovations have brought new energy to development efforts in Calumpit. If the private sector is better placed to conduct a project, the MDC encourages them to do that. The result has been a transformation of the government's role into a flexible supporter of private initiatives and a more aggressive pursuer of public efforts. Peoples' organizations have received loans, training, and technical support far in excess of what they received in the past.
This program is recognized as a Trailblazing Program, a finalist for the 1994 Galing Pook Awards.