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MANILA, Philippines – Interior Secretary Benjamin “Benhur” Abalos Jr. said a review of functions and responsibilities that would be turned over to local government units (LGUs) is in the works as the administration of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. moves to implement full devolution.
Abalos said they are expected to present a report to the President within the next two to three weeks as the government is eyeing to implement in 2024 the changes mandated by the landmark Mandanas-Garcia ruling.
The interior secretary said he has been working with the League of Cities of the Philippines and the Development Academy of the Philippines for the report.
“That’s what our president is trying to make us do – review the gaps and then fill the gaps… figure out what are the gaps wherein the national government can step in and then the local officials will be there for support,” Abalos said in Filipino during an interview for Rappler’s special coverage of the Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections (BSKE).
He explained that not all LGUs are up to the task of delivering services that still fall on the national government.
Some just do not have enough resources or manpower to shoulder some functions that will be turned over to the LGU from the national government, which include road construction and building school facilities. The League of the Provinces of the Philippines earlier said that this could negatively affect LGUs that receive funding assistance from the national government.
“It’s a work in progress,” Abalos added. “We have to go through each function.”
Marcos is planning to release an executive order by the end of the year which would clarify the functions of national and local governments with respect to the Mandanas-Garcia ruling. This increased the budget share of LGUs sourced from national revenues, paving the way for local governments to assume more responsibilities.
After Filipinos voted for the first time in five years for the BSKE, Abalos highlighted that village and youth council officials are “crucial in everything” the administration hopes to implement.
During the interview, the interior secretary said it is local officials who should know the country’s citizens best, therefore making them a key part of the government’s programs on health, and education, among others. – Rappler.com