MANILA - Four declared presidential aspirants—all of them with no experience in local executive positions—will face some 100 mayors and governors Tuesday morning to state their positions on 5 issues considered most crucial by the sector.
Senators Benigno Aquino III, Francis Escudero, Manuel Villar, and Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro will basically be asked how they will further local autonomy in specific ways.
Naga City Mayor Jessie Robredo, a former president of the League of Cities of the Philippines, said local officials should look for a president who will not only listen but will also be committed to their reform agenda.
“This president should believe that the central government cannot do everything and govern the country by its lonesome. He will treat us with dignity and respect that we deserve and will not attempt to put a price tag on our cooperation,” Robredo said during the presentation on some of the proposed reforms on local governance.
The aspirants will be grilled by the local executives for one hour each at the AIM Conference Center in Makati City, from 7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The forum, called “Face to Face: 100 Local Government Champions vs 4 Presidential Contenders” will be aired live over the ABS-CBN News Channel (ANC).
The conference is organized by Synergeia Foundation, Galing Pook Foundation, Ateneo School of Government, and the Local Governance Support Program in ARMM (LGSPA).
Issues to be raised
Newsbreak sat in the workshops Monday where the local officials reached a consensus on which issues they will raise with presidential aspirants for the Tuesday forum.
Organizers also confirmed that the local executives will bring up the following issues with the presidential aspirants:
- changing the sharing scheme between the national and local governments in the internal revenue allotment (IRA), from 60-40 to 50-50, and changing the current formula of computing the share of each level of local government unit (LGU);
- changing the rules in utilizing the calamity funds of LGUs which, at present, limits it to relief and rescue, and prohibits allocating the fund for disaster preparedness activities;
- changes in the pork barrel system, which currently leads to duplication in the programs of the local governments and the congressmen;
- handling the Mindanao peace process;
- addressing the reproductive health issue.
“We want to know how the presidential candidates plan to address the reforms needed by local governments,” said Eddie Dorotan, executive director of Galing Pook Foundation.
Ironically, all of the aspirants have served only as congressmen and never as local chief executives. They all served 9 years in the House of Representatives prior to their current positions: Aquino of Tarlac’s 2nd district; Escudero, of Sorsogon; Teodoro, of Tarlac’s 1st district; and Villar, of Las Piñas City. (Newsbreak)