Regardless of the outcome of efforts to amend the Constitution to pave the way for a shift from unitary to federal form of government, Senator Sonny Angara said that local government units (LGUs) should have enough power and funds to respond to the needs of their constituencies.

Addressing participants to the recently concluded 2nd Annual General Assembly of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP) at the Manila Hotel, Angara said the government must continue to empower LGUs in order for them to effectively fulfill their role as frontliners in the delivery of government services.

The government must continue to empower LGUs in order for them to effectively fulfill their role as frontliners in the delivery of government services.

“Anumang porma ng gobyerno, dapat ay may sapat na otonomiya, kapangyarihan, at pondo ang mga lokal na pamahalaan. Sa ganitong paraan, masisiguro natin na aabot ang ginhawa, lunas, at tulong mula sa gobyerno para sa taumbayan na nangangailangan nito,” the the veteran legislator told town mayors present at the LMP event.

The seasoned lawmaker, a former representative of the lone district of Aurora, said the LGUs must be given a more active role in nation-building by providing them governmental powers and full autonomy in the delivery of basic services.

LGUs must be given a more active role in nation-building by providing them governmental powers and full autonomy in the delivery of basic services.

“As we recognize that the LGU is the national government’s longest arm and closest hand to an individual, it is just right that this hand be given more flexibility and power to care for, provide for, and guard the citizen’s welfare,” the youthful senator pointed out. “That way, this unit will be front and center in nation-building.”

As the chairman of the Senate Committee on Local Government, Angara has been conducting public consultations in reviewing the 27-year-old Local Government Code (LGC) under Republic Act 7160, which remained unchanged since its enactment in 1991.

Based on the hearings, four bills are now being considered by the committee. These measures include the “Bigger Pie, Bigger Slice” bill, situs of taxation, direct remittance of national wealth taxes, and continuous review of LGC.

The Bigger Pie, Bigger Slice bill, as proposed by Senate President Koko Pimentel and Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto, seeks to increase the internal revenue allotment (IRA) of LGUs to 50 percent from the current 40 percent, to enable them to effectively perform their duties as frontliners to their constituents.

According to the Liga ng mga Barangay, 40 percent of 41,902 barangays receive an IRA of P1 million or less.

“Hindi po sapat ang pondong ito para masustina ang kanilang pag-unlad. Our LGUs should enjoy genuine and meaningful autonomy to enable them to attain their fullest development as self-reliant communities,” he said.

Angara said his committee is also looking for ways on how the people’s funds flow back to their local governments so that more can be channeled into projects and services that serve their benefit and uplift their welfare.

“That should be the crux of the matter whenever we discuss local autonomy—whether our local governments have the resources and powers to truly serve their constituents and raise their well-being,”he concluded.

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