By Prince Golez
The national government is studying “very seriously” Executive Order No. (EO) 138, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said, noting the current technical capabilities of local government units (LGUs) and reduced tax allotment this year.
“Gagamitin ngayon namin itong one year na ito para pag-aralan nang mabuti ‘yung 138. Tingnan natin na siguro may mga function kasi na binibigay sa local, hindi naman dapat sa local talaga,” Marcos Jr. said during the general assembly of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP) at the Manila Hotel Wednesday.
“We are taking very seriously the issues that have come out from the Mandanas ruling and how we will implement it because hopefully by next year, by ’24 mag-i-improve na ang ating koleksiyon kasi sa 2021, medyo maganda-ganda, medyo umaahon na ‘yung ekonomiya, baka mayroon naman talaga tayong makuha,” he added.
EO 138, signed by then President Rodrigo Duterte on June 1, 2021, directs the full devolution of certain functions of the executive branch to the LGUs.
It was issued to facilitate the efficient implementation of the Supreme Court ruling on the Mandanas-Garcia case and strengthen the autonomy and empowerment of loval governments.
In his speech, the President described the implementation of the Mandanas ruling as one of the government’s most pressing issues.
“I’m sure everybody is aware of that and iniisip kung ano ba ang talagang nangyayari. Ang nangyari dito is nagkaroon tayo ng executive order, ‘yung EO 138 that defines the different functions of government and local government,” according to him.
“Dahil ang nasa likod niyan ay ang sinasabi lalaki ang pondo ng municipal government, ng provincial government, ng city government dahil nga nabago ‘yung interpretasyon doon sa sharing,” he added.
Marcos Jr. lamented that there are many issues that need to be addresses in local government operations, and that “we have to coordinate and to synchronize all that we are doing at the local level with what we are planning to do at the national level.”
“And again, the growth of our economy, the transformation of our economy will always start from the ground level. And if we do not give our local leaders the opportunity to show what it is that they feel are most important, pinakamahalagang proyekto, pinakamagandang iba’t ibang gagawin, mga initiative, programa,” the chief executive said.
Marcos Jr. also assured LGUs that his administration would listen to their concerns and provide assistance as needed.
“We have to give them a chance na magawa nila ang kanilang mga initiative. Para mapakita nila kung ano ‘yung maganda nilang iniisip,” he said.
In 2018, the SC ruled that the just share of LGUs from the national taxes is not limited to “national internal revenue taxes” collected by the Bureau of Internal Revenue but also include collections (customs duties) of the Bureau of Customs and other tax collecting agencies.
It also provides for the creation of a committee on devolution to monitor the implementation of the EO 138.
With the expected increase in the just shares of LGUs, they will be better equipped to assume responsibility for the delivery of devolved services as prescribed under Section 17 of the Local Government Code of 1991 and other pertinent laws.