Local governments to get P260-billion IRA
MANILA, Philippines — There is no more turning back in the the devolution to local governments of basic services delivery and other functions in compliance with the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Mandanas case, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) said.
Speaking in the televised program “Cabinet Report” of Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar on Friday, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said local government’s constituents should expect high-quality public services once local officials secure bigger shares of their internal revenue allotment (IRA) starting next year in compliance with the Mandanas ruling.
“This means more funds, more resources for them to implement their programs and projects. Imagine 38 percent additional IRA. More or less, we’re talking of additional P260 billion and, of course, there’s a big expectation [from them] by our countrymen,” Año said.
The DILG chief said devolved functions and services included health services, local infrastructure, revenue mobilization, employment facilitation, social welfare, housing, natural resources management and agricultural services.
Año said the greater funding would bring changes in how local governments govern themselves and in their relationship with the national government.
“They (local governments) are now in the position to chart the destiny of their people and community. This means: bigger resources, bigger responsibilities. That is why on our part, we must exact accountability on the devolved services, so that our local governments will really do their devolved functions for the good of our countrymen,” he said.
“What’s beautiful here is that our countrymen can directly ask their local government what projects they need; this way there would no more be projects that aren’t needed in their barangay,” he added.
Año said that with bigger coffers, local governments would be on “equal footing” unlike before when funding was inadequate and rivalry for projects ensued among local governments.
“That is why sometimes, one place has plenty of projects while other places lag and there are no projects there,” he said.
Año said the national government would also benefit from the Mandanas ruling as it would be focusing on “macrolevel strategic priorities.”
“Our national government will be performing oversight functions, and will shift from what we call rowing to steering and focusing primarily on development policy, service delivery standards, capacity building, providing technical assistance and local government compliance monitoring,” he said.
For Jonathan Malaya, spokesperson for the DILG, the Mandanas ruling should change the mindsets of local governments and the national government, wherein both tiers are still jointly delivering basic services.
Malaya said with the bigger IRA, there should be no more mayors missing from their towns because they were following up projects in Manila.
“We have to follow what the Constitution says on devolution and decentralization, that we need to bring the funds to the lower tiers, to [local governments]. And on the [local government’s] part, they need to accept the truth that they are entirely responsible for the provision of basic services,” he said.
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