Cebu governor won’t budge on LGU consent law | Inquirer News

Cebu governor won’t budge on LGU consent law

Gwendolyn Garcia STORY: Cebu governor won’t budge on LGU consent law

Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia (Photo from her Facebook page)

CEBU CITY, Cebu, Philippines — Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia is not about to accept the opinion of the Department of Justice (DOJ) that it did not find any legal basis for an ordinance that requires national government agencies to coordinate with the local government before implementing their programs in the province.

Garcia pointed out that Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla might have been fed with wrong information and that his legal opinion was issued prior to her meeting with Malacañang officials who went to Cebu to discuss the new ordinance.


The provincial government, Garcia said, is now holding a series of consultations with national government agencies based in Cebu for the drafting of the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of Provincial Ordinance (PO) No. 2023-02.


Under the ordinance, national government agencies are required to coordinate with the local government unit (LGU) in Cebu on the implementation of its programs; otherwise, their officials and employees will be penalized.

Last month, Garcia sued Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) officials in the Office of the Ombudsman in the Visayas for implementing African swine fever (ASF) programs in Cebu without coordinating with the concerned local government as required by Republic Act No. 7160, or the Local Government Code of 1991.

In her complaint, Garcia said that the BAI announced the presence of swine fever cases in Carcar City without supposedly validating if it was indeed the virus causing ASF.

‘Great divide’

Garcia said that PO 2023-02 was an “enabling ordinance” of RA 7160 which calls for more coordination between national agencies and the concerned local government.“Is there really a need to further this great divide? To accept that this is an unbridgeable chasm between national government agencies and local government units? No,” Garcia said.

“I hope that with this ordinance, we will come to realize there is no need to claim turfs. Not my turf, your turf, but it should be our turf working together in clearly defined mechanisms because, after all, we are all Filipinos,” she added.

But Remulla, in a signed opinion dated April 24, said the ordinance had no legal basis, as the BAI need not seek prior consultation nor approval from the province of Cebu in implementing its policies on the containment of ASF.


Remulla’s legal opinion was sought by Senior Undersecretary Elaine Masukat of the Presidential Management Staff. Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos and Special Assistant to the President Antonio Ernesto Lagdameo Jr., on April 25, went to Cebu to talk about the ordinance.


Citing a Supreme Court ruling, Remulla said prior consultation and approval from the local government is only required in these six instances: when it may cause pollution; bring about climate change; cause depletion of nonrenewable resources; result in loss of cropland, range land or forest cover; eradicate certain animal or plant species from the face of the planet; and other projects or programs that may call for the eviction of a particular group of people residing in the locality.

“Ours is still a unitary form of government, not a federal state. Being so, any form of autonomy granted to local governments will necessarily be limited and confined within the extent allowed by the central authority,” Remulla said.

“Besides, the principle of local autonomy under the 1987 Constitution simply means decentralization. It does not make local governments sovereign within a state,” he added.

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Despite Remulla’s opinion, Garcia said the province would continue crafting the IRR for PO 2023-02, which would eventually be implemented in Cebu.


Cebu ordinance requires LGU consent for nat’l projects

TAGS: Gwendolyn Garcia, LGU consent law, local government units

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