This year marks the 27th Anniversary of the LGC and by year 2022, it will be the LGC’s 30th year to coincide with the last year of President Du30’s term.
October is not red! It is red, white, blue and yellow – our national flag colors, in commemoration of the realization of the State policy to decentralize governance and allow autonomy for local government units (LGUs), under Article II, Sec. 251 of the 1987 Constitution, through the passage of the Local Government Code (LGC) by the 8th Congress on October 10, 1991.
Congress’ passage of the Local Government Code (LGC) or Republic Act 7160 also has constitutional basis under Section 32 of Article X of the 1987 Constitution. This year marks the 27th Anniversary of the LGC and by year 2022, it will be the LGC’s 30th year to coincide with the last year of President Du30’s term.
So, #LGC@27 – this year’s DILG theme, after three Administrations of former Presidents Ramos, Estrada, and Aquino, and after nine (9) Congresses later, some may ask - what is there to celebrate this year? Although there are four laws3 passed amending the LGCode, the LGUs’ priority amendments to the LGC have remained status quo and unacted upon for the past 27 years despite the required mandatory review of the LGC every five years pursuant to Sec. 5214 of RA 7160. We are forever thankful to the 8th Congress for even passing the LGC! But the fact remains that the loopholes and ambiguities in this landmark law needs to be updated and amended now!
LGUs have been clamoring for an increased percentage share in the national budget to meet the increasing demands of the people for better provision of basic services. The IRA share of all LGUs nationwide is only 13.8% of the total national budget for FY 2018. If only the National Government will readily implement the Supreme Court decision on the Garcia and Mandanas case, then this % share will increase to 21% of the 2019 proposed Budget even without amending Sec. 284 of the LGC. If only local governments, which are directly answerable to the people who voted for their local officials, will be given an increased share in public spending, then we can expect an increased contribution to the country’s GDP. After all, the head is only as strong as its body parts. So why the reluctance?
In Southeast Asia, the average % share of its sub national governments or LGUs from their national government budget is 23%. In Asia Pacific it’s 30%. So, in order to become internationally competitive, our LGUs should get its Constitutionally-mandated fiscal share which should be automatically released to them without need of any further action! And yet LGUs are still appealing for its mandated share after 27 years! But hope springs eternal, especially so that our incumbent President was a former Mayor himself and LGUs are optimistic that this administration has the political will to make this a reality during his term.
One of the major key findings of an ADB Report5 on poverty in the Philippines is to “Enhance local government capacity and resources for poverty reduction and improve coordination between national agencies and local government in poverty programs.”
(To be continued)
1Sec. 25 of the Article II of the 1987 Constitution provides: “The State shall ensure the autonomy of local governments.” This provision, however, is being proposed to be amended under the proposed Federal Constitution drafted by the Constitutional Committee to read “The Federal Republic shall promote the autonomy of local government units in accord with federalism.”
2Article X of the 1987 Constitution, “SECTION 3. The Congress shall enact a local government code which shall provide for a more responsive and accountable local government structure instituted through a system of decentralization with effective mechanisms of recall, initiative, and referendum, allocate among the different local government units their powers, responsibilities, and resources, and provide for the qualifications, election, appointment and removal, term, salaries, powers and functions and duties of local officials, and all other matters relating to the organization and operation of the local units.”
3Laws amending the LGCode of 1991 (RA 7160)
1. RA8553 that outlines the composition of the provincial, city and municipal councils.
2. RA 8185 that clarifies the use of the LGUs’ calamity funds.
3. RA 8524, which was passed in 1998 and which expanded the term of barangay officials from 3 to 5 years.
4. RA 9009, which increased the income requirement for cityhood from P20 million to P100 million.
4RA 7160, Title II, “Section 521. Mandatory Review Every Five Years. - Congress shall undertake a mandatory review of this Code at least once every five (5) years and as often as it may deem necessary, with the primary objective of providing a more responsive and accountable local government structure.”
5Source: ADB Report on Poverty in the Philippines https://www.adb.org/sites/default/files/publication/27529/poverty-philippines-causes-constraints-opportunities.pdf