Escudero to pursue local gov't code amendment, more autonomy in IRA spending | Inquirer News
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Escudero to pursue local gov’t code amendment, more autonomy in IRA spending

/ 06:25 PM April 18, 2022
Escudero to pursue local gov't code amendment, more autonomy in IRA spending

FILE PHOTO: Sorsogon Gov. Francis “Chiz” Escudero. INQUIRER FILES

MANILA, Philippines — Senatorial candidate Francis Escudero on Monday said he would seek to amend the Local Government Code of 1991 to give local government units (LGUs) more power and autonomy in spending their internal revenue allotment (IRA).

Escudero, the incumbent governor of Sorsogon province, pointed out that securing the approval of national government agencies (NGAs) such as the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) for expenditures or actions “have proven to be a hindrance to the delivery of timely and relevant services.”

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But these regulations, according to the former senator, are the result of DILG and DBM circulars and not the Local Government Code itself.

With the Mandanas ruling providing an increase in the IRA for LGUs and Executive Order 138 mandating full devolution of government services, Escudero said local governments now have more responsibilities and must therefore have more freedom and power to carry out those responsibilities as they see fit.

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“In the past, limited funding for devolved services has challenged the very agenda of devolution. Now that the law gives local governments a greater share in the IRA, the national government must allow LGUs to allocate their money for programs and services that they know their constituents need,” Escudero said.

Under Executive Order 138, which was signed to mitigate the impact of the Mandanas ruling on the national government’s budget, NGAs and LGUs are mandated to prepare devolution transition plans that “conform to the guidelines to be jointly issued by the DBM and DILG.”

The plans, which must be submitted to the DBM within 120 days from the effectivity of EO 138, effectively dictate how LGUs will be spending their additional revenue.

“Why should the DBM decide how LGUs appropriate their IRA? If this were some form of financial assistance or subsidy from the national government, then, by all means, dictate its use. But this is the IRA of the local governments, and the local governments must be free to decide what they want to do with it,” said Escudero.

“Malayong mas alam ng isang mayor o governor kung anong kailangan at kung anong dapat gawin sa kanyang lugar kaysa sinumang secretary, gaano man siya kagaling, na nakaupo lamang sa loob ng opisina niya sa Metro Manila na hindi man lang tumatayo o dumudungaw minsan sa bintana niya para makita yung kalagayan namin mula sa malalayong lugar,” he added.

(A mayor or governor knows far better what is needed and what should be done in his place than any secretary, no matter how good he is, who just sits inside his office in Metro Manila without even standing or looking out his window once to see our situation in faraway places.)

Escudero, who explained that the Local Government Code of 1991 has been substantially unchanged for 31 years, said he will make it his advocacy if given the chance to return to the Senate to ensure that national legislation strengthens and supports local governance.

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“We will begin with long-overdue amendments to the Local Government Code to ensure that it serves its purpose of truly decentralizing governance and granting autonomy for local government units,” he said.

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LGUs should not depend on windfall from Mandanas ruling – Escudero

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TAGS: Chiz Escudero, Elections, Internal Revenue Allotment, Local Government Code, Mandanas ruling
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