Speedy devolution of services to LGUs sought

July 14, 2021 Ryan Ponce Pacpaco 373 views

A BICOLANO House leader has called on local chief executives to speed up the crafting of their development plans that will lead to the full devolution of basic services and facilities from the national government (NGs) to their respective local government units (LGUs).

Executive Order (EO) 138, issued by President Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte last month, approved the devolution of more functions of the NG to LGUs.

In preparation for the implementation of the EO, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) subsequently ordered LGUs to craft their respective Capacity Development Agenda (Caop Dev) and Devolution Transition Plans (DTPd)

A three-term Camarines Sur governor before his election to the House, Rep. LRay Villafuerte said the Caop Devs and DTPs will help ensure the seamless transition of functions to the LGUs.

“The LGUs should work double time on crafting these development and devolution plans so that these can be submitted to Malacañang and the Committee on Devolution can then begin its job of monitoring the implementation of the DTPs, including the administrative and fiscal decentralization aspects of devolution as stated in EO 138,” Villafuerte said.

Under EO 138, the ComDev will be chaired by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and co-chaired by the DILG.

Its members include the secretaries of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA); Department of Finance (DOF); Executive Secretary; and presidents of the Leagues of Provinces, Cities, and Municipalities of the Philippines, Liga ng mga Barangay ng Pilipinas (LNB) and the Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines (ULAP).

According to DILG Secretary Eduardo Año, the Local Government Academy (LGA) shall oversee the provision of capacity development interventions for local governments, and shall develop the appropriate mechanisms to ensure efficient utilization of government resources on this effort.

Año has said EO 138 will ensure that the policy of decentralization as enshrined in the Constitution and the Local Government Code (LGC), as well as the increase in just share in national taxes for LGUs as provided for in the Mandanas ruling of the Supreme Court (SC), will be carried out systematically and smoothly.

In Mandanas et al. v. Executive Secretary et al. case, the SC held that all collections of national taxes, except those accruing to special purpose funds and special allotments for the utilization and development of the national wealth, should be included in the computation of the base of the just share of the LGUs.

Villafuerte lauded President Duterte for taking steps to further devolve functions to LGUs

The Camarines Sur lawmaker expressed his support for the President’s proposal under the EO for Congress to create Growth Equity Fund (GEF) which will cover funding requirements of the projects of low-income and lagging LGUs to enable them to implement the functions and services devolved to them.

Villafuerte has long been pushing for the increase in the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) of LGUs through his House Bill (HB) No. 4697, which seeks to hike the current IRA allocation of LGUs from 40 percent to 60 percent of national tax collection. His bill has since been overtaken by the Mandanas ruling.

“We need to increase the fiscal resources of LGUs to free them from their dependence on imperial Manila,” said Villafuerte.

Villafuerte noted that with the implementation of EO 138, LGUs that have the financial capacity will enjoy more autonomy in managing their resources.

According to Ano, the full devolution of basic services and facilities from the national government to LGUs will finally begin next year, including the increased share of LGUs in all national taxes and revenues.

Earlier, the DOF estimated the national tax allotment (NTA)—formerly called the IRA—which LGUs will divide among themselves next year would hit P986.44 billion, based on the agency’s computations.

The computation takes into account the implementation of the Mandanas ruling.

This is higher than the P841.3-billion allocation for the local governments if the Mandanas ruling would not be implemented and their 2021 allotment of P695.49 billion, according to the DoF.

Last year, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez called on LGUs to start working with the national government in preparing for the seamless transfer to their offices of the additional devolved functions, services and facilities that they would have to assume with the implementation beginning 2022 of the Mandanas ruling services,” said Dominguez in a webinar hosted by the ULAP.