By Genalyn Kabiling
President Duterte has agreed with the Supreme Court (SC) that local government units “deserve more” internal revenue allotment (IRA) to efficiently address the needs of their constituents.
The President said he was open to explore ways to implement the expanded LGU share of the national revenues as ordered by the SC.
“Tama siguro talaga ang Supreme Court that you deserve more and from our sources ang inyong share [The Supreme Court is probably right that you deserve more share from our sources],” he said during a closed-door meeting with the League of Cities of the Philippines in Davao City last Friday.
“Tutal magamit ninyo for anything. It is to your advantage na maski utang, wala naman talaga na…not strictly in a sense that it’s an obligation to everybody and a burden to the people or constituencies,” he added.
Last April, the SC affirmed its ruling that local government units should have their share from all national revenue sources, not just from internal revenues. The decision stemmed from a petition filed by Batangas Gov. Hermilando Mandanas related to the IRA for LGUs.
The High Court, however, clarified that the adjusted amounts will take effect in 2022. It dismissed the petitioner’s plea for the retroactive application of higher IRA when the Local Government Code was implemented in 1992.
Some local government executives have reportedly expressed hope that the new revenue-sharing scheme could be implemented as early as possible.
In a press statement, the Palace said President Duterte was “open to exploring options for the local governments to avail of their share of the national revenue as ruled by the Supreme Court entitling local government units (LGUs) to have an expanded share of national taxes.”
Duterte said the administration remains focused on efforts to reduce poverty, implement infrastructure development, and keep peace and order at the local level.
He likewise urged city mayors to work with the national government by implementing policies and reforms that will benefit their constituents. He appreciated the league’s commitment to continue to uphold good governance, serve with integrity and accountability, and strictly observe judicious spending of public funds.
“With your dedication to serve your respective constituents, I am confident you can address the growing needs of our people and provide them the opportunity to lead meaningful lives,” Duterte said.
Last month, the Palace admitted that the administration could not immediately give the higher IRA for LGUs due to expenses on poverty alleviation, anti-crime and corruption efforts, among others, for now.
There might be “unmanageable fiscal deficit” if there would be an early implementation of the Supreme Court-sanctioned revenue-sharing scheme with the LGUs during this administration, according to Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo.
“Due to the various commitments of the President to the people, such as the implementation of programs designed to combat criminality and corruption, as well as activities of the national government to promote human development and poverty reduction, to name a few, it was agreed that the adjustment of the IRA may not be feasibly effected during this administration,” Panelo said.
“Otherwise, there will be an unmanageable fiscal deficit, while securing loans will be more expensive to the nation as the citizenry will be paying for higher rates,” he said.