Participatory Urban Planning

  • Best Practice No 7
  • Thematic Area 2: Institutional Governance
  • Country of Origin: Philippines
  • Name of Local Government/Municipality: Guimaras
  • Type of Local Government: Province

Short Version

Summary

The island province Guimaras, through funding support from the German Technical Cooperation, participated in the six-year program “Integration of Plans and Planning Processes” in 2005. To strengthen the economic potential of the province without harming the ecosystem and the agri-tourism industry, Guimaras saw the need to work on a harmonization and integration of the different land use plans into the overall physical framework plan (PPFP) of the province.

The specific objectives of the project were as follows:

  • To assist the officials and residents of Guimaras to prepare and complete their provincial physical framework plan (PPFP);
  • To establish the substantive linkages between the regional physical framework plan (RPFP) and the PPFP, on one hand, and the PPFP and the comprehensive land use plans (CLUP) of the component municipalities, on the other;
  • To develop and apply approaches and methodologies for effecting integration of the planning systems at the regional, provincial and municipal levels;
  • To document the process for possible replication in other areas and regions.

The innovative planning process adopted in Guimaras was by far the only successfully attempted and completed in the Philippines. It is because this was the first time that the provincial physical framework plan (PPFP) was drafted simultaneously with that of its five component municipalities namely: Jordan, Buenavista, San Lorenzo, Sibunag, and Nueva Valencia. It is a pioneering effort, in terms of planning, which ensures both vertical and horizontal linkages of plans – linking the provincial plan to the regional plan and linking it to the plans of the municipalities. With the integration and eventual implementation of these plans, modest gains have been achieved in the development of the Guimaras tourism industry. There have been increased tourist arrivals and increased investments in tourism facilities and services.

Projects identified in the plan which were completed or implemented include:

  • Roll On-Roll Off (RORO) Port construction in Sibunag,
  • Port Facilities upgrade in Jordan and Buenavista,
  • Road upgrading program,
  • Fish Landing Facility construction,
  • Agro-forestry in sloping areas promotion,
  • Integrated Coastal Management (ICM),
  • Tourism development initiatives, and
  • Functional roles of component municipalities.

Background and Objectives

Guimaras is an island-province in the Western Visayas that struggles with poverty.  Its economic state was weak even after its institution as a full-fledged province in 1992. Despite the poverty gripping its populace, the 60,547-hectare island is rich in natural resources. Fifty percent of the land area is devoted to agriculture. Its fertile soil grows high-value crops like mangoes, coconut, cashew, and Philippine lime (kalamansi). The rural environment of the island, its sandy beaches and coves, are high potentials for tourism development.

The province of Guimaras, through funding support from the German Technical Cooperation, embarked on a program called “Integration of Plans and Planning Processes” in 2005. This initiative was formulated with a land use plan that will maximize the province’s economic potentials without jeopardizing the fragile island ecosystem. Its ultimate vision is to make Guimaras the Agri-Tourism Capital of the Region.

A.   Innovative Elements

The provincial government came up with the project theme which related the outputs of the project with the completed draft provincial physical framework plan (PPFP) of the province of Guimaras and the revised or new comprehensive land use plans (CLUPs) of the five component municipalities.  The process of producing these plans and their substantive contents were ideally integrated vertically and horizontally. Vertical integration was attempted between the province of Guimaras and Western Visayas (Region 6) on one hand, and between Guimaras and its five component municipalities, on the other. Horizontal integration would apply to adjoining municipalities. Another dimension of horizontal integration was envisioned between the PPFP and the provincial comprehensive development plan (CDP) and between the municipal CLUP and the corresponding CDP at that level. With the integration and eventual implementation of these plans, modest gains have been achieved in the development of the Guimaras tourism industry. There have been increased tourist arrivals and increased investments in tourism facilities and services.

The harmonized land use plan is used as basis for implementing complementary projects. One example is the program of the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) for the Provincial Road Management Facility (PRMF), which involves the formulation of the Provincial Road Network Development Plan (PRNDP) as the basis for improving the capacity of the provincial government in the sustainable management of its provincial roads. The implementation of the PRNDP and PRMF is anchored on the land use plan.

The Integrated Coastal Management (ICM) Program has also been adopted as a result of the province’s membership in the Partnership for the Environmental Management of the Seas of East Asia (PEMSEA). Using the land use plan, the ICM formulated approaches to ensure sustainable management of the coastal environment.

Projects identified in the plan which were completed or implemented include:

  • Roll On-Roll Off (RORO) Port construction in Sibunag,
  • Port Facilities upgrade in Jordan and Buenavista,
  • Road upgrading program,
  • Fish Landing Facility construction,
  • Agro-forestry in sloping areas promotion,
  • Integrated Coastal Management (ICM),
  • Tourism development initiatives, and
  • Functional roles of component municipalities.

Based on the adopted functional roles, municipal governments are focusing on improving their roles and in complementing initiatives of the other municipalities. Specific examples are improvement of tourism support services (Nueva Valencia), agricultural and fishery productivity improvement (Sibunag and San Lorenzo), improvement of educational facilities and services (Buenavista) and initiatives to improve urban services (sewerage) for the municipality of Jordan.

B. Involvement and Activities

The Integration of Plans and Planning Processes program of the province of Guimaras is implemented with the assistance of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) under the Decentralized Planning Structures Project (DPSP), with funding from GTZ. The DPSP adopted the province of Guimaras as the pilot area for the program mainly because it does not have an approved PPFP. The program assisted the provincial government officials and residents prepare their PPFP. The five municipalities of Guimaras—namely Jordan, Buenavista, San Lorenzo, Nueva Valencia, and Sibunag—are assisted in the preparation of their own CLUPs. The process was the first attempt to formulate the PPFP simultaneously with the CLUPs of the five municipalities and to adopt a highly participatory process involving the barangays.

A complementary approach to land use planning was agreed upon by the five municipal governments to maximize what each component municipality has and clearly designate the roles that they need to perform to contribute to the overall development of the province. Hence, municipalities complement each other and address inter-territorial disputes by harmonizing land uses between adjoining municipalities. The principle of co-management was also included because watersheds in Guimaras overlap with other territorial jurisdiction.  The process of public consultations was both challenging and encouraging as manifested by intense discussions precipitated by the interplay of community interests, business, and political considerations. The consensus to adopt agri-tourism as the preferred development strategy to leapfrog the provincial economy later became the focus of efforts to market the vision and eventually guided the identification and implementation of programs and projects on the ground.

The planning process also resulted in the designation of growth centers and stressed the need to maintain the rural character of areas outside the growth centers to be consistent with the agri-tourism image. However, the plan provides for the improvement of public services in these areas and access to urban amenities will be enhanced by establishing urban-rural links anchored on transportation and communication facilities.

C. Sustainability and Replication

This planning approach in Guimaras was already shared in various local and international conferences. This included the conference organized by the UNHABITAT in Seville, Spain (April 2009) and the World Ocean Week (WOW) in Xiamen, China (November 2009). However, the Guimaras experience is not entirely replicable in any other place in the country. There are some aspects of the project that can be replicated with reasonable degree of success if certain conditions are met. A dedicated government arm--in this case the NEDA Regional Office, represented by its technical staff—should be actively involved in major phases and activities of the planning process.

In the same manner, another staff from the PPDO who will serve as the facilitator at the municipal level should effectively carry out assistance to each of the component municipalities in all aspects of planning. To be more effective in assisting the LGUs, the PPDO should be restructured to mirror the organization and functions of the NEDA. The GIS capability of the province has been a major advantage of the project. Provinces that have acquired or are acquiring GIS capability must make this facility available for use by their component municipalities.

The small size of Guimaras is being cited as an argument for challenges in replication of Guimaras experience. What worked in Guimaras may not work in large provinces, they say. Nonetheless, large provinces with larger personnel complement can actually implement a similar approach with appropriate training and capabilities. With proper organization and allocation of functions, large PPDOs should be able to attend to the needs of their component municipalities.

With regards to external funding, the functions of the external consultant can be replicated by the key national agencies such as the NEDA, DILG and others who have been part of the Guimaras experience.  These agencies could be called in by the LGUs to assist them on “as needed” basis. Thus question of sustainability is also responded to as these national government agencies are institutionalized and not temporary creations and are therefore mandated to give assistance to the LGUs as part of their regular functions.

On the long term, all development councils will be required to obtain training in planning and get special training on the methods and techniques of group facilitation.  This is because it takes time and effort to change the mindset of local officials toward accepting their key role in defining the local development agenda jointly with the executive branch. Processes introduced by the Department of the Interior and Local Government should be brought into the mainstream of local planning to get the participation of the local legislators.