Team formed on devolution of government functions

Alexis Romero - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — A special team has been created by President Marcos to deal with the issues of devolution and decentralization of the functions of local and national governments arising from the implementation of the Mandanas-Garcia ruling.

The Mandanas-Garcia ruling fully transfers the delivery of basic services to local governments. It stemmed from a petition filed by Batangas Gov. Hermilando Mandanas, former Bataan governor Enrique Garcia Jr. and other local officials before the Supreme Court (SC) on the local governments’ share of the internal revenue allotment (IRA).

In 2018, the SC affirmed the ruling, granting local governments a just share of all collected national taxes, not just from the tax bureau, effective this year.

Local governments source their IRA from 40 percent of national internal revenue taxes collected by the tax bureau. Because of the court decision, the IRA is projected to increase by 27.61 percent.

Speaking at the meeting of the League of Cities of the Philippines (LCP) last Tuesday in Malacañang, Marcos announced that a team will be handling issues of devolution and decentralization, the Presidential News Desk confirmed.
A Palace statement said this team will be headed by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG).

Yesterday, the DILG said it supports the President’s move. “The DILG embraces the critical responsibility of leading this special team taking into account the primordial mandate of the LGUs to provide the highest quality of public service to their constituents,” it said in a statement.

The department said that it is keen on pursuing a middle ground in implementing the Mandanas-Garcia ruling to be beneficial for both the national government and LGUs.

“The DILG understands that full devolution can be challenging for our LGUs, hence, we commit to creating a safe environment where they can air their concerns and sentiments towards a more productive exchange of ideas and its improved implementation,” it said.

Marcos told the LCP meeting that he already had extensive discussions with Mandanas and the late former DILG secretary Jesse Robredo on the issue of devolution issue when he was chairman of the Senate local government committee.

He said the original concept was to use the additional IRA for the fourth, fifth and sixth class provinces or local governments and provide assistance to provinces that operate hospitals but do not have funds.

The remainder of the IRA would be given according to the provisions of the Local Government Code, which varies depending on the local governments, he added.

The Chief Executive admitted that there are difficulties in applying the court ruling to some cities, and the decision on how to allocate the money that is appropriated was left to the discretion of local chief executives.

“But we are still continuing to look at it. I am looking at what belongs to local government and what does not belong to local government,” the Palace statement quoted him as saying.

“Also, some of the functions that have been given to local governments, sometimes, are not carried out because we have no new item, we have no training on that,” he added. – Romina Cabrera

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