Senatorial candidate Francis Tolentino chats with editors and reporters during a visit to The STAR office over the weekend.
Ernie Peñaredendo
Francis Tolentino to champion LGU empowerment
Robertzon Ramirez (The Philippine Star) - April 3, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — With his experience in local governance, senatorial candidate Francis Tolentino seeks to amend the Local Government Code of the Philippines to further empower local officials. 

In a recent interview with reporters and editors of The STAR, Tolentino said local officials have a vital role in nation building, noting that some problems could not be resolved by the national government alone. 

Tolentino, a former mayor of Tagaytay City, said that local government officials have limited powers especially when it comes to disaster response and other issues of national concern.  

A good example, he said, is the horrible traffic problem in Metro Manila that can be solved if local government units would be empowered, similar to steps being taken by the Makati City government. 

He cited the subway to be constructed in Makati City, a project of the city government aiming to help address traffic congestion in major thoroughfares without tapping the national treasury.  

“Tama ang direction na if the LGUs are empowered, they can also be partners in solving our present problem especially traffic,” he said. 

Being former chairman of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) under the administration of former president Benigno Aquino III, Tolentino also pushes for an overhaul of the agency with the election of a Metro Manila governor. 

Tolentino said that the election of a Metro Manila governor should be included in the local elections to strengthen the power of the MMDA and appoint a “rotating vice governor” from Metro Manila mayors. 

To address the water crisis, Tolentino backs the creation of the Department of Water that will harmonize the tasks of all government agencies involved in waterworks. 

Tolentino said that he already saw the water crisis problem back in December last year, but the public seemed unconcerned until the supply shortage hit. 

“As early as December walang naniniwala sa akin, when I was shouting there will be a water crisis – I fought with MWSS (Metro Manila Waterworks and Sewerage System), they raised rates which I opposed,” he said. 

He said that there should be cohesive effort to place water on a pedestal of basic needs. 

Under Tolentino’s proposed Department of Water, the functions of the MWSS, Local Water Utilities Administration, National Water Resources Board and National Irrigation Administration will be consolidated. 

He said that the consolidation of all agencies working for water management will help government souce solutions to the impending water shortage.

Aside from the creation of the water department,

Tolentino also pushes for inclusion of “water desalination equipment” as a requirement in securing business permits to recycle and reuse water, as he feared drought by 2025. 

“The water recycling is to be part of the national building code, so we have to amend the code. Potable drinking water should be segregated from that used for gardening or washing,” he said. 

Tolentino is officially endorsed by both President Duterte’s PDP-Laban and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte’s Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HNP) as one of their senatorial candidates. 

Unlike in 2013 when he ran for senator as an independent, Tolentino said he has high hopes year with the endorsement of the President and the Davao mayor. 

In another development, Tolentino backed the idea of releasing the names of celebrities allegedly into illegal drug activities so that the public will know who they are idolizing. 

As a former chairman of the Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF), he said that the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) should reveal the celebrities’ identities. 

“It’s not just the adulation, but the cult-following of the moviegoers,” he said, so the public will know whose movies to watch. 

Should the PDEA reveal the celebrity names, Tolentino said the move would also help politicians who have been endorsed by celebrities without their knowledge on such illegal activities. 

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