THE local government units (LGUs) in Eastern Visayas, from the provincial level down to the barangays, will be richer in revenue allotments by next year.
This is the windfall from the Mandanas ruling that allocates a hefty increase in Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) shares by up to 37.8 percent to all LGUs that included the provinces, cities, municipalities, and barangays.
The ruling proportionately distributes the new budget allocations to the LGUs of around Php959 billion.
The amount for each LGUs varies based on their LGU classifications and current IRA shares.
Improved delivery of basic services expected
The monetary increase is substantial and will bolster the local government units’ capability to provide basic social services to their constituents.
Myles Colasito, information officer of the Department of Interior and Local Governments (DILG) in Region 8, said the LGUs in EV, including the 4,390 barangays in the region, could now improve their delivery of basic services using their IRA shares.
“Our office is working on the process of capacity building agenda of the LGUs, including the barangays, which will show “kung ano yung mga kailangan nila”, current inventory of resources and “ano pa ang kailangan nila na” capacity development to improve their delivery of basic services.”
Technical aid for a smooth transition
To avoid possible underspending or unnecessary fiscal imbalance brought by the sudden increase of revenue allotment, Regional Director Imelda Laceras of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) said in a media brief that they have already begun extending technical help to the LGUs in preparing and finalizing their budget and investment targets for 2022.
“This is important because in implementing the Mandanas victory, there would be a mandatory absorption by the LGUs of certain programs and functions that affected agencies of the national government would be devolving upon them in three years from next year.”
Laceras said, the national government agencies have already prepared drafts for their transition plans and some of them have had the chance to present these plans to LGUs.
“Sila kasi yung maglilipat at nag identify ng mga ililipat na functions sa mga LGUs.”
Laceras reiterated that by this time, LGUs should be drafting their devolution transition plan on how they will absorb the devolved functions.
“The two agencies of the government should work together for the smooth transition. And the roles of DBM, DILG, and other oversight agencies are to provide the link for these two, and provide the needed technical help.”
Affected national government agencies
Affected agencies of government in the devolution process are the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Department of (DOH), Department of Agriculture (DA), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), and Department of Tourism (DOT).
The said agencies have yet to finalize what might be the current programs and projects to be effected under the Mandanas ruling.
It was learned that the ongoing AICS program of DSWD and its social pension program for senior citizens will not be affected by the forthcoming devolution.
The AICS (Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situation) is part of the DSWD's protective services for the poor, marginalized, and vulnerable/disadvantaged individuals.
The AICS has been implemented by the DSWD for decades, as part of its technical assistance and resource augmentation support to LGUs and other partners.
President Rodrigo Duterte last June issued Executive Order No. 138 mandating all the affected government agencies and LGUs the full devolution of certain functions of the executive branch to the LGUs.
Process of transition
Laceras said a three-year period is a time given to complete full devolution for completion by the end of 2024.
The budget and management director hopes that with the training and technical help the oversight agencies of government will afford, the LGUs, particularly the barangays, could prepare their respective devolution transition plans on time and within the budget preparation calendar.
DILG experts will go around the provinces and municipalities and down to the barangays to hold hands-on training and help in creating devolution transition teams.
The Mandanas ruling is a 2018 Philippine Supreme Court decision asserting that the basis of the computation of the internal revenue allotment (IRA) for local government units (LGUs) is erroneous, thus denying LGUs a just share of the IRA.
The IRA is computed based on gross national internal taxes of the third fiscal year before the current fiscal year.
In the Mandanas landmark victory, the Supreme Court ruled that the local share must be computed from the total national taxes collected, to include the taxes from the Bureau of Customs and Treasury, except for taxes with a specific purpose.
According to Lacera, the recomputation based on the national taxes collected and now certified by the Department of Finance is pegged at pPh959 billion for 2022, and DBM has already sent letters to the LGUs informing them of the amount of their receivable IRA share for 2022.