The Inbox

Stronger local governments after 20 years of the Code

Nene Pimentel, father of the Local Government Code. Photo by Lito Espelimbergo.

By Ariel C. Sebellino, VERA Files

Are things better now for local governments 20 years after the Local Government Code, or Republic Act 7160, was signed into law on October 10, 1991?

Former senator Aquilino Pimentel Jr,,acknowledged as the Father of the Local Government Code, believes so.

The devolution of powers from the central government to what are known today as local government units (LGUs) pursuant to the Code allowed every province, city and municipality to chart its own political destiny without the dictates of so-called imperial Manila.

 "Monies that were previously collected and disbursed by the central government now go directly into the coffers of local government units," Pimentel said during the celebration of two-decades of the Code at the Philippine International and Convention Center in Pasay City.

 "But there are abuses," Pimentel was quick to add. "The looting of public funds does happen unfortunately in some LGUs."

He said that brazen employment of ghost employees for ghost projects and the unabashed bias for favored contractors are glaring examples of abuse of powers that still exist to this day.

"Whatever happened to applicable laws against malversation or plunder of public funds?" he wondered.

He said that stricter Commission on Audit  rules must be applied and enforced and to replace COA officials who are either helpless or in cahoots with corrupt local government officials.

Pimentel urged some amendments to the Local Government Code, including an increase in the internal revenue share of LGUs from the current 40 per cent to 50 per cent.

This, he said, will translate into several billions more for the coffers of local governments. 

He said that reducing the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) of certain cities that are awash with money also means redirecting the excess funds to municipalities and barangays in dire need of development assistance.

"Rich cities like Makati should spare and share some of their money to poor municipalities," Pimentel suggested.

He challenged local government officials to make budget and expenditures more transparent.  He also advised national administration officials not  to "tinker with the internal revenue shares of local governments."

"If you have to reduce their internal revenues shares, do so in accordance with the law," Pimentel said.

Governor Alfonso Umali Jr. of Oriental Mindoro, who is president of the League of Provinces of the Philippines (LPP) and Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines (ULAP), agreed with Pimentel's observations. 

He said that whereas powers and services were devolved and transferred to LGUs, there are no sufficient funds available to be able to function efficiently. 

"LGUs still need revenue-generating powers," Umali stressed. "The Finance Department has to update the Local Revenue Code."

Secretary of Interior and Local Government Jesse Robredo said his department is going the way of full disclosure policy, noting that "they  (LGUs) are now more transparent in their transactions."

Robredo said 75 per cent of the 1,600 local government units are now in compliance with "good housekeeping policy," showing excellence in key local governance areas.

"The greatness of this nation rests on the excellence of local government units; hence, LGUs should continuously up their games by improving their competencies and institutionalizing reforms in their systems in order to serve their people well," Robredo said.

He added that local governance is a continuing journey towards excellence. The DILG secretary noted that performance ---  measured objectively --- is  the basis for rewards, and inability to perform is the basis for penalties and sanctions.

Picking up from his father's suggestion, Sen. Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III filed Senate Bill 2987 seeking to increase from 40 to 50 percent the Internal Revenue Allotment that a local government unit gets as its share in the national taxes.

"The purpose of this proposal is to broaden the share of local governments by including as the basis thereof not only the government's Bureau of Internal Revenue collections but also those of the Bureau of Customs as tariffs and the duties, fees and other forms of income collected by the Philippine Ports Authority, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and other government agencies," the younger Pimentel said adding that the bill's passage will  translate into more dynamic local government units especially in the area of development of local communities.

The DILG and ULAP led the Code's anniversary celebration with the theme "Local Government Code: 20 Years of Gains Towards A Meaningful Autonomy."

In October last year, the DILG launched "Biyaheng Pinoy: Tapat na Palakad, Bayang Maunlad," a year-long celebration at the local and national level to mark this year's 20th anniversary of the Code and 20 years of local autonomy in the country.

Aside from the DILG, other national government agencies (NGAs), LGUs, the private sector, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), civil society organization (CSOs), the academe, the media, and other stakeholders  participated in a series of local governance-related activities.

"Biyaheng Pinoy," the DILG said, "is not just  a mere celebration but a continuing journey to every Filipino's dream for an archipelago of good governance."

(VERA Files is put out by veteran journalists taking a deeper look at current issues. Vera is Latin for "true.")


Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • N. Korea fires missiles in anger at South-US military drills
    N. Korea fires missiles in anger at South-US military drills

    North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles into the sea and vowed "merciless" retaliation Monday as the US and South Korea kicked off joint military drills denounced by Pyongyang as recklessly confrontational. The annual exercises always trigger a surge in military tensions and warlike rhetoric on the divided peninsula, and analysts saw the North's missile tests as a prelude to a concerted campaign of sabre-rattling. "If there is a particularly sharp escalation, we could see the …

  • Couple married 67 years holds hands in final hours together
    Couple married 67 years holds hands in final hours together

    FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — After spending 67 years together as devoted husband and wife, there was no question how Floyd and Violet Hartwig would end their lives — together. …

  • Hijacked Indonesian vessel found in Davao
    Hijacked Indonesian vessel found in Davao

    An Indonesian cargo vessel that was hijacked a month ago in North Sulawesi, Indonesia has been found stuck in the waters off Mati, Davao Oriental, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) reported yesterday. PCG spokesperson Armand Balilo said the PCG- Southeastern Mindanao district was informed on Feb. 23 that the M/T Rehoboth was found aground off Barangay Cabuaya. Four personnel from the local PCG district office were sent to verify the report. The vessel was reportedly hijacked by …

  • Militants want US Marines pulled out of Negros
    Militants want US Marines pulled out of Negros

    The militant group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) is calling for the pullout of US Marines who arrived in Sagay City, Negros Occidental last Wednesday to train Special Action Force (SAF) commandos and members of the allied forces. The SAF commandos and the allied forces will secure the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) ministerial meeting in this city. Bayan-Negros secretary general Christian Tuayon said the US troops might violate the human rights of activists, especially those …

  • Military steps up offensive vs BIFF, Abu Sayyaf
    Military steps up offensive vs BIFF, Abu Sayyaf

    Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr. has ordered the sustained campaign against the Abu Sayyaf and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) following the successive offensives against the armed groups last week. A total of 24 Abu Sayyaf bandits and two soldiers were killed in recent clashes in Sulu last week. The Joint Task Group Sulu has received information that Abu Sayyaf leader Radulan Sahiron was wounded during one of the encounters but this is …

  • 'Jihadi John' relatives under watch in Kuwait
    'Jihadi John' relatives under watch in Kuwait

    Kuwaiti authorities are closely monitoring several relatives of "Jihadi John" who live and work in the Gulf emirate where the Islamic State executioner was born, press reports said on Sunday. A number of relatives of Mohammed Emwazi, named as the militant who has beheaded at least five Western hostages, are working in Kuwait and like him hold British citizenship, Al-Qabas newspaper reported. "Security agencies have taken the necessary measures to monitor them round the clock," the paper said, …

  • Binay backs house arrest for JPE, GMA
    Binay backs house arrest for JPE, GMA

    Vice President Jejomar Binay yesterday supported proposals to put Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile and former President now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal- Arroyo under house arrest. “Government prosecutors are opposing house arrest for… Enrile. Binay issued the statement after the 91-year-old Enrile was rushed to the Makati Medical Center on Thursday due to pneumonia. House arrest for him would be the compassionate thing to do,” he added. …

  • Interview: Australia says hunt for missing MH370 jet may be called off soon
    Interview: Australia says hunt for missing MH370 jet may be called off soon

    By Matt Siegel CANBERRA (Reuters) - The search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 cannot go on forever, Australia's deputy prime minister said, and discussions are already under way between Australia, China and Malaysia as to whether to call off the hunt within weeks. No trace has been found of the Boeing 777 aircraft, which disappeared a year ago this week carrying 239 passengers and crew, in what has become one of the greatest mysteries in aviation history. The search of a rugged …


Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Poll Choice Options