President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. ordered 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-Garcia 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 on EO 138,” Budget Secretary Amenah Pangandaman said in a press briefing in Malacañang after the sectoral meeting.
“The President gave an instruction to further study the responsibilities, projects and programs that can be performed by LGUs and which should be left for the national government,” she added.
Pangandaman said several studies have already been done by different academic institutions and development partners.
“Maybe we can just look at them again and then it’s just quick. Maybe in just two months we might have a study and we are able to show this to the President already,” Pangandaman said.
The study, to be spearheaded by National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Secretary Arsenio Balisacan, shall determine the need to extend the initial transition period of FY 2022-2024.
The Budget chief said when the Marcos administration took over, many LGUs raised concern on their inability and lack of preparation for the adoption of full devolution, particularly on big ticket and high-impact projects.
“There are LGUs that we know are really lagging. They cannot implement those projects because they lack the technical expertise and capacity to implement those projects,” she said.
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 could fall short if it is a big irrigation system project, Pangandaman said.
EO 138 was issued in 2021 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.
Under the Mandanas ruling, the national government is mandated to expand the share of LGUs in tax collection.
A P1 billion Growth Equity Fund was also allocated to assist these LGUs in addressing issues of marginalization, unequal development, high poverty incidence, and disparities of the net fiscal capacities as they assume the devolved functions in the delivery of basic services and facilities.
Pangandaman chairs the Committee on Devolution.
“We also see the need for the national government to pursue a long-term capacity development strategy and program for the LGUs, and intensify capacity building interventions on revenue generation and resource mobilization to ensure that LGUs will be able to fund and sustain the implementation of devolved functions and services on their own,” the Budget Secretary said.