Lacson-Sotto tandem bats for LGU empowerment to pick projects
MANILA, Philippines — The 2022 tandem of Senator Panfilo Lacson and Senate President Vicente Sotto III is proposing the empowerment of local government units (LGUs) through a balanced budget system that would allow mayors to pick projects that best suits their respective localities.
Sotto emphasized during a hybrid town hall meeting with sectoral leaders in the Visayas last Friday that adopting a bottom-up budgeting system would bode well for the local governments because it would kickstart locally-initiated development plans.
In turn, he said, this kind of initiative — which is included in the proposed budget reform bill of Lacson — would free LGUs from being totally dependent on the national government for their projects.
“We know how to solve the problems (of the LGUs) by merely balancing the budget. Bring the money of the government down to the people,” said Sotto, who would be running for vice president in the 2022 elections with Lacson as his president.
If enacted, Lacson’s bill titled the Budget Reform for Village Empowerment (BRAVE) Act of 2019 would appropriate an annual local development fund of P500 million to P1 billion for each of the 82 provinces nationwide. The proposed law is still pending in the Senate.
The bill likewise aims to allocate annually P100 to P200 million each to 146 cities across the country; P50 to P100 million each to 1,493 municipalities; and P3 to P5 million each to 42,046 barangays.
This funding will be on top of the annual appropriations received by the local governments, and their share from locally collected taxes which is packaged as the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA).
“There’s a lot of money but they were not distributed at all,” Sotto explained.
Leaders of the multi-sectoral groups from Cebu, Bohol, Negros Oriental, and Siquijor apparently were delighted with Sotto’s discussions with them, as it is allegedly rare for a high-ranking public official to visit them and listen to their pleas.
According to Ako Bisaya party-list third nominee Jarvis Prochina, the BRAVE agenda coincides with the reforms sought by the multi-sectoral groups who met with Sotto online last Friday.
“It’s the first time that the third-highest official of the Republic came down to listen by himself the concerns of the farmers, fishermen, vendors, women, LGBTQ, and other marginalized sector representatives. He carefully listened to our plight,” Prochina said.
Lacson and Sotto were vying for the two top positions in the land via the 2022 polls with a vow to restore the people’s trust in government.
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