Earlier this year, the government initiated the implementation of the Mandanas-Garcia Ruling of the Supreme Court with the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) as the head of the Committee on Devolution (ComDev).
The committee monitors the full devolution or decentralization of certain functions of the national government to the local government units (LGUs).
On the Ammuentayo radio program of PIA Ilocos Sur, DBM in Ilocos regional director Ria Bansigan shared how the Mandanas-Garcia Ruling or the Executive Order No. 138 came about.
The ruling is a result of two separate petitions filed by Batangas Governor Hermilando Mandanas and former Bataan Governor Enrique Garcia Jr. before the Supreme Court requesting the basis of computation of the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) of LGUs be adjusted to include national taxes.
They cited the Local Government Code of 1991 where it states under section 284 that LGUs shall have 40% share from the IRA, however, both the governors appealed that the Section 6 of the Article X of the 1987 Philippine Constitution states otherwise that “LGUs shall have a just share, as determined by law, in the national taxes which shall be automatically released to them.”
Bansigan discussed the implications of the implementation of the Mandanas-Garcia ruling to the national government agencies (NGAs), LGUs, and more importantly, to the citizenry.
Fiscal impact of the devolution
The LGUs are given higher shares on the collections of the country but that was deducted from the available fund of the NGAs.
“Nagkaroon ng fiscal imbalance, nakita na hindi na kakayaning isagawa ng NGAs ang mga programa na dati ay pinopondohan nila,” the DBM Ilocos chief explained.
She said they discovered there are a lot of programs including the basic services currently being administered by the NGAs that are supposed to be under the management of LGUs based on the Local Government Code of 1991.
Changes after the full devolution
The IRA previously included the collection of the Bureau of Internal Revenue within the country, however with the inclusion of the national taxes which includes the collections of the Bureau of Customs i.e. custom duties, the funds of the LGUs drastically increased.
The full devolution does not mean that all programs of the NGAs will be transferred to the LGUs, the mandate of the agencies remain, and they will assume the steering function or assist and provide technical assistance to the LGUs.
Impact to local citizens
The people are the recipients so they must be informed of these changes.
NGAs reach out to LGUs to discuss the identified programs that will be transferred to the former.
What are these programs?
Director Bansigan stated that the programs of NGAs are included in Section 17 of the Local Government Code.
She mentioned that one is the Department of Agriculture with its programs such as the farm-to-market roads, operation plan for rabies elimination, production support services, agricultural machinery equipment and facilities, among others.
She also pointed out the programs of the Department of Health such as the Health Facilities Enhancement Program, which funds the construction of health centers, as well as the provision of medical equipment.
Pros of the implementation of the ruling
She states one positive impact of the ruling is that the LGUs have administrative autonomy to identify the priority programs – they are empowered to determine their own economic development.
The director noted that from 2021 to 2022, the budget increased to 37.89 percent.
“Sila ang nakakaalam sa kanilang lokalidad kung ano ang pangangailangan nila, 'yan ang napakagandang aspeto ng full devolution,” she said.
Role of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), Non-Government Organizations (NGOs), People’s Organizations (POs)
Bansigan stated, “Napakaimportante na ang ating mga CSOs, NGOs at POs sana ay capacitated and empowered para magkaroon ng active participation in the preparation of devolution transition plan at local devolution plan.”
Their role is important in the monitoring of the implemented programs.
She emphasized that giving feedback – whether it may be positive or a constructive criticism – to the local government helps in planning appropriate projects.
“Nakikita na nga natin na hindi maganda dapat sabihin natin, mangialam tayo sa mga programa sa ating lokalidad. Also, they know what their sectors need so they have to push for their advocacies,” she quipped. (JCR/AMB/ATV PIA Ilocos Sur)