Metro Manila Mayors in the Spotlight

The challenges for Metro Mayors today are triple or quadruple as compared to those in the past. It is extremely important that they become more innovative and creative in their approaches to a problem that the world did not anticipate while working through the challenging bureaucracy.

One year into office, Metro Manila Mayors could never have imagined the daunting task facing them today apart from what they originally anticipated when they decided to run for public office. The wit of Metro Manila Mayors has been put to a major test following the bout of the entire country and the rest of the world with the COVID-19 pandemic. About half of the total number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 come from Metro Manila based on recent statistics.

It has not been easy for Metro Manila Mayors to swiftly implement COVID-19 countermeasures and programs since these must be aligned and need to have the go signal from the Inter-Agency Task Force on Infectious Diseases (IATF). Furthermore, limited resources have forced many LGUs to prioritize the provision of aid for the most vulnerable sectors with their locality. They are also at the frontline of grievances and complaints from their constituents who have suffered great social and economic hardships in these times.

Local Government Units (LGUs) are designed to be frontliners in the delivery of basic services to the people within their administrative control. LGUs have the power to create its own sources of revenue and to levy taxes, fees and charges by virtue of Republic Act No. 7160 or the Local Government Code. LGUs are also allocated with Internal Revenue Allotment, which accounts for about 60-70% of LGUs' total receipts. In recent years, however, LGUs continue to be dependent on national government for funding due to claims of limited resources.

In this time of pandemic, both national governments and LGUs are financially challenged to revive an ailing economy and to provide a lifeline to the overburdened public health and safety sector. The national government has been forced to rely on loans to finance the proposed Bayanihan Heal as One Act 2 and has cracked the whip on tax delinquents and potential contributors to support the enormous financial requirements brought about by the pandemic. This leaves Mayors and LGUs to fend for their own and find viable sources of financing to support the growing economic and health needs of their constituents.

It's a good thing that the cities of Manila and Pasig have shown the way in finding partners and sources of funding for the needs of their constituents, particularly on education and public transportation. Other LGUs are also trying to find private sector partners of their own to support various programs that must be implemented as a result of COVID-19.

The challenges for Metro Mayors today are triple or quadruple as compared to those in the past. It is extremely important that they become more innovative and creative in their approaches to a problem that the world did not anticipate while working through the challenging bureaucracy. In the absence of a vaccine, it is critical that their actions ensure some sense of normalcy is brought back and the local economy is slowly recovering. The fate of their next term lies in their performance.

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About the Author
Mr. Aaron Benedict De Leon is currently a Business Development Practitioner in a private consulting firm. He has more than six years of professional experience in leading and managing political and non-government organizations, specializing in organizational management, policy development and program management. He has had stints with notable political/socio-civic organizations, serving in various capacities as: Secretary-General of the Centrist Democratic Party of the Philippines (CDP) [2013-2015], Founding Chairperson of the Centrist Democratic Youth Association of the Philippines (CDYAP) [2012-2014], Philippine Representative to the International Young Democrat Union (IYDU) [2011-2012], Chairperson of the Christian Democratic Youth [2011-2012], Secretary-General of YOUTH Philippines [2010-2011], and Spokesperson/Communications Director of the GT2010 Gilbert Teodoro Presidential Campaign [2009-2010].
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