Marcos: Reviewing devolution to LGUs not an alternative to charter change

Job Manahan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 22 2023 05:25 PM | Updated as of Mar 22 2023 06:16 PM

MANILA — A plan to review the devolution of some roles to local governments is not being considered as an alternative to the proposed charter change, President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. said on Wednesday. 

Efforts to amend the 1987 Constitution "are directed at the economic provisions" in a bid to attract more investors, Marcos noted. 

He said this was "not the same thing" as reviewing the devolution of some functions to local government units from the national government, which former President Rodrigo Duterte approved in an Executive Order No. 138. 

"Pinag-aaralan pa namin ‘yun [devolution]. In fact, we had a very long meeting yesterday, the other day, because it is very important that we get it right," the President told reporters in a chance interview. 

(We are still studying that.)

"It’s entirely different from the charter change," he added. 

House lawmakers have passed on third and final reading the proposed Constitutional Convention Act of 2023, operationalizing the Resolution of Both Houses No. 6 that calls for a convention to amend the 1987 Constitution.

Meanwhile, the budget department this week said a panel would study Duterte's EO 138 after local executives aired their struggles to implement high-impact projects before the Mandanas ruling fully takes effect. 

The review will include identifying which functions would remain with the national government and those that would be delegated to local authorities, Marcos said. 

"Whatever requires planning on a national scale, the function should remain, in my view, with the national government dahil hindi ka makapagplano kung iba-iba ‘yung ginagawa ng iba’t ibang constituency," he said. 

(You cannot plan if the various constituencies are doing different things.) 

Under the Mandanas ruling, local governments are entitled to a bigger share of the Philippines’ annual revenue after the Supreme Court ruled in 2019 that the computation of internal revenue allotments (IRA) should include collections from local Customs offices and other tax-collecting agencies.

The interior department is eyeing the full devolution of local government units by 2024. 

Some 400 LGUs are not yet ready for devolution, the DBM said on Tuesday. 

The Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines (ULAP) on Wednesday urged President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to extend the period of devolution and study its suspension. 

"Kahapon po nanawagan ng sectoral na pagpulong ang Pangulo natin at kinonsulta rin po tayong mga nasa local at ‘yun po ang aming hiniling na maaaring habaan ang period at pag-aralan din po 'yung pagsuspende para lalong mapag-usapan at mapasaayos yung usapin ng devolution," said Cua. 

(Yesterday, the President called for a sectoral meeting and we were also consulted in the local government, and that's what we requested to extend the period and also study the suspension of the devolution.)

The governor also noted that some matters need to be addressed before a full devolution, including the issue of sanitary landfills which only total around 1,600. 

Some municipalities are too small to run their own landfill, he noted.

"'Yung ibang munisipyo ang liliit tapos 'yung minamandato natin magtayo ng magtayo ng landfill. Kaya isang idea na pinag-usapan, dapat 'yan may scale at scope. Sa larangan ng pag-manage ng basura, dapat siguro 'yung pag-manage ng landfill ay nasa probinsya na," he said. 

"Clusters of municipalities and cities ang pinag-uusapan. Pero 'yung pangongolekta ng basura puwedeng mayor pa rin ‘yun, puwedeng munisipyo at city pa rin ‘yun. So, these are things na dapat maisaayos, hindi lang simpleng devolution."

(Some towns are too small, yet we mandate them to build a landfill. One idea that was discussed was that it should have a scale and scope. Perhaps the province should manage the landfill, but the task of garbage collection could stay with the mayors. These are things that should be fixed, it's not a simple matter of devolution.)