INCOMING Batangas Gov. Hermilando Mandanas called for the establishment of an “equalization fund” to level the playing field among federal states once the country has shifted to federal form of government.
In a media forum, Mandanas said an equalization fund is needed because some provinces are poor.
“In federalism, you have to have an equalization fund because some provinces, barangays [villages]or towns are really poor. We all know that not all federal states have the same capacities. We should have an equalization fund to help poor provinces],” he explained.
He suggested that rich provinces should contribute to the fund.
Mandanas, a former congressman, said it is time to change the form of government to ensure that economic growth is inclusive and sustainable.
“This [federalism]is best for the common good. You cannot have an imperial Manila, especially with a number of islands and different cultures that we have. It has to be really decentralized, and it’s the essence of our Constitution right now,” he said.
Mandanas said that under federalism, local government officials will have more power or authority to set their priorities and programs, and to spend their monies.
“In times of calamities, some mayors and other local officials will have to beg to the national government to get support from them. In accordance with our laws, it should be the local government,” he said.
The governor-elect also called on the outgoing administration of President Benigno Aquino 3rd to return the P800 billion IRA [Internal Revenue Allotment] “back pay” to the local government units (LGUs) before his term ends on June 30.
This amount, he said, will be used by the LGUs to start federalism, stressing that under the federal form of government, local government units have the full autonomy to fully enforce IRA provisions.
“The P800 billion IRA is the total estimated unreleased portion of the just share of the local government units in the national internal revenue taxes since 1992,” Mandanas said.
He added that at least P500 billion was not released from 2010-2015.
The 1987 Philippine Constitution, Local Government Code, and National Internal Revenue Code state that IRA should be automatically released to LGUs.