Govt pressed: Implement LGU tax-sharing plan

Batangas Gov. Hermilando Mandanas. PHOTO BY JOHN RYAN BALDEMOR

Batangas Gov. Hermilando Mandanas. PHOTO BY JOHN RYAN BALDEMOR

BATANGAS Gov. Hermilando Mandanas called on the Marcos government to swiftly implement the Supreme Court's ruling in 2022 that granted local government units (LGUs) a bigger slice of the taxes collected by the national government.

“What they (the Marcos government) should do is implement the SC (Supreme Court) decision. Follow the law, it is very simple,” Mandanas said while guesting on SMNI's “Business and Politics,” a weekly program hosted by The Manila Times Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Dante Francis “Klink” Ang 2nd.

“It is important that we [LGUs] effectively and efficiently deliver basic services and fast. If it is done by an upper authority, they are so far from the people and they would not know really who to give it to and who is deserving,” he said.

Under the Mandanas-Garcia ruling, the delivery of basic services is devolved to LGUs.

In 2013, Mandanas and former governor of Bataan, Enrique Garcia Jr., together with other local officials, petitioned the Supreme Court to rule on LGU shares of the internal revenue allotment (IRA).

Mandanas and Garcia were then members of the House of Representatives.

The court affirmed the ruling in 2018, giving the LGUs a higher share in all national taxes collected effective 2022.

LGUs currently get their IRA from 40 percent of taxes collected by the Bureau of Internal Revenue. The Mandanas-Garcia ruling is projected to boost the IRA by 27.61 percent.

Former president Rodrigo Duterte had issued Executive Order 138, which directs the devolution of certain executive branch functions to LGUs.

Mandanas said the national government has not given LGUs a say in allocating assistance for such services as education and social welfare.

“So they determine to whom the assistance should be given and how they are going to be given. The same when it comes to health. It already happened in the distribution of ayuda (financial assistance) during the pandemic,” he said.

Mandanas cited the plan to put up barangay (village) health centers as one program the national government failed to implement “because they do not know where to put it up and they do not know how to do it.”

“You have seen giving fertilizer to Metro Manila, where there is no agriculture. Of course, you also have to consider that we have different climates, different soil, different water supply,” he said.

Mandanas noted the principle of subsidiarity wherein a larger and greater body should not exercise functions which can be carried out efficiently by a smaller and lesser entity.

“That is the wisdom of the principle of subsidiary and the expression of this is giving local autonomy. If you do not follow it, we become ineffective. Magiging magulo (It's going to be messy),” he said.

He further pointed out that under the current setup, “people who should be given assistance are not being given assistance while those who are not deserving, they get it.”

“Other LGUs outside are forgotten. This is the reason why we have been fighting this for a very long time already, on my part since I became governor about 25 years already,” Mandanas said.

“There are really functions that can be handled more effectively by the LGUs such as tourism and communications. It is now very important, in the law, that we have our own telecommunications network in provinces and cities. But for us specifically, those are the basic services which have already been devolved by law. Decentralized,” he said.

“Why should this be done? So that we would be able to include everybody. So that our development would really be from the bottom up, so that more people will be employed,” Mandanas said.

This year, he said, the local government's IRA share increased by P278 billion. “If it is recognized and retroactive and distributed, it will be an increase of about P50 billion,” he pointed out.

Mandanas added that addressing inequality in financial resource1s among LGUs, improving the capacity of LGUs, and enhancing transparency and accountability are key to improving decentralization.

“But what is important is that it (Supreme Court ruling) is recognized and fully implemented,” he said.

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