Senator Sonny Angara will address about 1, 700 barangay captains from Iloilo at their assembly at the SMX Convention Center in Bacolod Citythat starts 9 a.m. today
Angara, chairman of the Senate Committee on Local Government, is pushing for reforms under the Local Government Code to ensure a meaningful equitable distribution of resources and powers against the backdrop of Charter change (Cha-cha) that will pave the way to shift to federalism, a press release said.
“While the wheels of Charter change have already started to turn, there are alternative paths of reform worth pursuing, where we can still achieve the same goals of local autonomy and proper allocation of collective resources—perhaps in an even more expeditious manner,” Angara said.
Angara issued the statement as the Senate Committee on Local Government, which he chairs, started hearing measures proposing increases in the internal revenue allotment (IRA) of local government units (LGUs) and rationalizing the requirements for cityhood conversion to allow more provinces to set up growth centers and engines for development.
Proponents of federalism claim that such progressive form of government would be most beneficial for Filipinos in terms of spreading the country’s economic gains to the countryside and raising rural incomes, the press release said.
But Angara said the proposed federal government still had a long way to go in the legislative process.
Besides, he said, the process of Charter change itself is long and tedious as it would require a substantial amendment to the very foundation of the country’s laws and policies.
It may also require a complete overhaul of the 1987 Constitution, which is implemented in a unitary form of government.
“But how much longer should the Philippine countryside have to wait before they grab the reins over their respective destinies? How much more should we allow their dependence on the central authority in Manila to linger?”, he asked.
The quick solution could be reforming Republic Act No. 7160 or the Local Government Code, which has remained relatively unchanged in the last two and a half decades, he said.
He said the LGC already states that the different political subdivisions of the country should “enjoy genuine and meaningful autonomy to enable them to attain their fullest development as self-reliant communities.”
The law, he said, also states that “there shall be an effective allocation among the different ([LGUs) of their respective powers, functions, responsibilities and resources.”
“But while these broad pronouncements are already outlined in the Code, it appears we need to make some tweaks in the policy details so that the aspirations for local autonomy actually become a reality for all Filipinos,” Angara said.
He said his committee will discuss the ways on how the people’s funds flow back to their local governments so that in turn more can be channeled into projects and services that serve their benefit and uplift their welfare.
“That, anyway, should be the crux of the matter whenever we discuss local autonomy—whether our local governments have the resources and powers to truly serve their constituents and raise their well-being,” Angara said.*
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