Will complete devolution or transfer of powers to the local governments happen in 2022? This was the question discussed by local governance experts at a webinar organized by the University of the Philippines Diliman on November 26.
The prospect of complete devolution arises from two policies that will come into effect next year. Starting in 2022, the Supreme Court’s Mandanas ruling will require local government units (LGUs) to receive 40 percent of most national taxes (beyond the current practice of getting only from the internal revenue allotment or IRA). In exchange, however, local governments will also shoulder the responsibilty over public services to be devolved under Executive Order No. 138 issued on June 1, 2021.
According to UP Economics Professor Joseph Capuno, as the incomes of local governments from the national tax allotment or NTA increase next year, their responsibilities and expenditures will also increase.
“All types of local governments will have greater expenditures for social services, including health services,” said Capuno at the UP #PILIpiLUNAS2022 webinar. “Municipalities will have greater expenditures than cities or provinces.”
Dr. Alex Brillantes noted that the problem of scarcity of resources will continue to plague LGUs due to the fragmentation of districts, rendering many of the barangays unsustainable.
“Are they more effective as administrative rather than political units? There’s a lot of divisiveness, a lot of politics and corruption there” said Brillantes, a professor at the UP National College of Public Administration and Governance.
Meanwhile, UP Political Science Professor Maria Ela Atienza said that despite thirty years after the enactment of the Local Government Code, there are still wide disparities in local government’s performance across the country.
“Performance is affected by limitations in the Code and the electoral system,” said Atienza, “as well as the disparity in the quality of local leadership and personnel quality, local civil society presence, and citizen’s awareness and participation; ability to generate local resources; and persistence of political patronage, clans, corruption, and national executive dominance.”
She also proposed to include reforming the party system, strengthening regional development councils, and banning political dynasties.
#PILIpiLUNAS 2022 is a webinar series organized by the UPD Office of the Chancellor, to present research-based policy recommendations for a governance agenda in the 2022 national elections and beyond. The series will run from August 2021 to March 2022.