Bacolod mayor leads push for full devolution of powers

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BY NANETTE GUADALQUIVER

Mayor Evelio Leonardia underscored the significance of capacitating cities towards national development as he expressed support for the full devolution of powers to local government units (LGUs) in two years.

“We envision that the meaningful and transformative devolution of responsibilities and funding (to local governments) will invigorate our country’s development,” Leonardia, president of the 145-member League of Cities of the Philippines (LCP), said in a statement yesterday.

Considering that not all cities are created equal, he said it is important to build the capacities of LGUs and give them enough time to prepare and transition to full devolution.

“The LCP commits our strong support to the full devolution of powers to LGUs in 2022,” Leonardia said, stressing the importance of sufficient capacity development for local governments as they move forward in working together on the transition plan.

He pointed out that the “implementation of the Mandanas ruling will finally realize the full potential of the Local Government Code enacted 29 years ago”.

Based on the Supreme Court (SC) decision on the case of now Batangas Governor Hermilando Mandanas vs. Ochoa, a higher Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) for LGUs must be implemented.

The ruling stated “that the collections of the Bureau of Customs, including tariffs, customs duties, value-added taxes, documentary stamp taxes, and excise taxes should be included in the IRA computation, which was not done by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) in computing for the 2019 IRA”.

In July last year, Mandanas called for an amendment to the proposed PHP3.75-trillion national budget for 2019 to implement the July 3, 2018 SC decision on the automatic release of the IRA share to the LGUs.

In implementing the decision, the IRA of the provinces, cities, municipalities, and barangays for 2019 should be increased by about P200 billion, he noted.

However, then Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a statement that the higher IRA share for LGUs may not be feasibly effected before 2022.

Last October 9, Leonardia was also part of the discussions during the “Philippine Local Governance Reimagined,” a webinar on strengthening good local governance towards sustainable and resilient Filipino communities organized by the Department of the Interior and Local Government-Local Government Academy.*PNA

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