President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. ordered on Tuesday government agencies to study Executive Order No. 138 for possible amendments and to determine what national government functions should be devolved to local government units (LGUs) as a result of the Supreme Court’s Mandanas ruling.
In a sectoral meeting in Malacañang Tuesday, President Marcos discussed the roadmap extending the transition to full devolution from the national government to LGUs.
“The President asked us to study this and maybe make an amendment po sa ating EO 138,” Budget Secretary Amenah Pangandaman said in a press briefing in Malacañang after a sectoral meeting with the President.
“And we decided po, and then the President po gave an instruction to further study the responsibilities, projects and programs na kaya po gawin ng mga LGUs at ang iiwan po natin sa national government,” the Cabinet official added.
The Budget chief said when the Marcos administration took over, many LGUs raised the concern on their inability and lack of preparation for the adoption of full devolution, particularly on big ticket and high-impact projects.
LGUs have different capacity levels in carrying out projects with some advanced and developed local governments having enough manpower and funding while others lack those, Pangandaman said.
“And then because they have enough funding, mayroon na rin po silang enough manpower to implement the projects. But there are LGUs po that we know that are really lagging po,” she said.
“Hindi po nila kayang i-implement iyong mga projects kasi kulang po ang kanilang technical expertise and capacity to implement those projects,” Pangandaman added.
For instance, the Local Government Code of 1991 mandates LGUs to implement the National Irrigation System, which will be easier if it is a small water impounding system but they could fall short if it is a big irrigation system project, the Budget secretary said.
EO 138, s. 2021 was issued to support the efficient implementation of the SC ruling on the Mandanas-Garcia case and strengthen the autonomy and empowerment of LGUs.
It directs full devolution of certain functions of the Executive branch to the LGUs and also provides for the creation of a Committee on Devolution to monitor the implementation of the EO.
The SC ruled in 2018 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 and other tax collecting agencies.
Under the Mandanas ruling, the national government is mandated to expand the share of LGUs in tax collection.
On the other hand, LGUs are required to handle the responsibility of operating social services like agriculture, connectivity and health within their jurisdictions.