Last 19 January 2017, LOGODEF was invited to the Technical Working Group (TWG) session of the Senate Committee on Local Government held at the Sen. Laurel Room at the Senate of the Philippines. The TWG was presided over by Atty. Homer Alinsug as Chair of the Committee in the absence of Senator Edgardo ‘Sonny’ Angara. The TWG was composed of members from relevant NGAs, GOCCs, and NGOs, some notable members of the committee were not able to attend the session such as BIR and representatives from the Leagues; hence parts of the issues discussed in the agenda were left untouched.
LOGODEF actively participated in the proposed bills of Senator Panfilo Lacson, Sr. (SB 233), and Senator Antonio Trillanes IV (SB 643) on the conversion of a municipality into a component city. Essentially, both bills would like to exempt the requirements of land area and population if the municipality has generated an average annual income of at least P250,000,000. 00.
All members of the TWG with the exemption of BLGF motioned for the bill. BLGF representative Dir. Pamela Quizon noted that 5 eligible municipalities would qualify to be a city according to their database, namely Mariveles in Bataan, Malay in Aklan, Carmona in Cavite, Rosario in Cavite, and Cainta in Rizal. However, Prof. Tayao corrected that according the data released by Senate, there are 16 qualified municipalities who would become component cities if the bill is to be enacted, these 16 municipalities would only represent the fiscal year of 2016, therefore more projected municipalities will qualify in 5 years time. In a nutshell, the proliferation of cities in the Philippines will pose a greater threat to various aspects in finance and local governance.
Matters to consider
The bills revisit a similar case back 2011 where in the issue of 16 cities reached the Supreme Court who ruled 3 flip-flopped decisions. LOGODEF had a roundtable discussion on the Issue of Cityhood and Local Governance Reform back in February 2011 (See article here).
LOGODEF Executive Director Edmund Tayao reminded the TWG the current issues surrounding the bill and the LGC 1991.
- What is the rationale behind the proposed P250,000,000.00 annual income? What are its incentives to propose such?
- There are no clear definitions of LGU layers in the LGC, only requirements of land area, population, and local income. A proposal could be is that to classify the LGUs into specific functions.
- The capacities of the cities to deliver should be looked into more consideration rather than only looking at raw figures. Figures generated by the LGU are almost as meaningless if not properly translated to development.
- Instead of applying to become a city, there should be a stronger incentive for LGUs to merge.
- A transition fund is not advisable given that it would cost more and would seem to make more LGUs to consider being a city. Again, a stronger incentive on LGU merging is a better option.
Ending the session with a quote from Prof. Tayao:
“Local Government Units are development drivers, and can only be development drivers if they have the capacity.”
– Prof. Edmund Tayao, LOGODEF Executive Director