A lawmaker has called on the government to immediately address what he described as the long-delayed and much-needed implementation of the provisions on local autonomy of the Local Government Code (LGC).
“It is about time that the government fully implement the Local Government Code’s provisions on local autonomy, as well as sharing in the national taxes collected, both of which are crucial for our provinces to achieve development and progress,” Rep. Lito Atienza of Buhay party-list group said on Tuesday during his interpellation of Rep. Pedro Acharon Jr. of the First District of South Cotabato.
Atienza, also senior deputy minority leader, lauded and expressed support for Acharon’s call for Congress to exercise its oversight function and review the LGC, many provisions of which have not been fully implemented until now.
“I fully agree with and support Congressman Acharon’s call for our fellow lawmakers to convene our oversight committee and collectively review the provisions of the Local Government Code, which is an integral instrument in the development of our nation. How can we expect our local chief executives to come up with development plans for their respective areas if they do not have the funds necessary to achieve this?” he said.
“Some of the functions may have been devolved, but not the funds… The LGUs must be given their just share in the national taxes such as the value added-tax [VAT] so they can implement programs for the development of their communities. No less than Article X, Sec. 6 of our Constitution states, ‘Local government units shall have a just share, as determined by law, in the national taxes which shall be automatically released to them,’” Atienza added.
He pointed out that amid calls for a shift from the current presidential to a federal form of government, the government need only implement the intent and spirit of local autonomy as already provided for by the currentConstitution, for the country to move forward.
“Federalization is not the solution. Empowering LGUs is the call of the times. We will insist that the constitutional mandate and the provisions of the Local Government Code be respected, that functions be decentralized and funding be provided to the LGUs,” Atienza said.
If these provisions on local autonomy are respected and genuinely implemented, then there would be no need to federalize, he added.
“We cannot go into debates on federalism unless we see the constitutional mandate followed. One of the publicly avowed reasons for federalism is local autonomy, which is already provided for in the Constitution,” Atienza said.