Detained Senator Leila de Lima has sought passage of a measure that would realign the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority’s (MMDA) share in the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA), saying it is necessary to give local government units (LGU) a bigger share of the IRA.
In filing Senate Bill No. 1897, De Lima said it is necessary for LGUs to be able to have autonomy by amending Article 10 of Republic Act No. 7924 or the law that created the MMDA.
The senator said the MMDA, a non-LGU, seems to have been receiving its share of the IRA, which should be reserved exclusively for the LGUs by virtue of the devolution under the Constitution.
“This is likewise, clear in the Local Government Code,” De Lima said in a statement.
“Granting the MMDA with an IRA diminishes the constitutionally guaranteed right of LGUs of their just share of national taxes and undermines the principles of equity and local autonomy espoused by political decentralization and enshrined in the 1987 Constitution,” she said.
In filing the bill, the opposition senator stressed that the 1987 Constitution vested LGUs with the power to generate their own revenues via local taxes, fees and revenues but legislators had limited the IRA of LGUs to national internal revenue taxes.
De Lima recalled this was eventually challenged in Mandanas v. Executive Secretary Ochoa, claiming it omitted other sources of revenues, such as franchise fees and customs duties, which the national government withheld from LGUs.
Eventually, she said the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Mandanas petition, but this victory for LGUs cannot be fully enjoyed because a review of the status quo implementation of the IRA would reveal that even the MMDA gets a slice in the limited pie, and thus, “significantly reduces the share of each LGU from the scarce resources available.
De Lima said it I important that the MMDA’s share of the IRA be removed from its Charter—not to undermine MMDA’s contribution in managing the National Capital Region—but to guarantee that LGUs will receive their equitable share of national taxes.
“Excising the IRA from MMDA’s funding is well within reason as they will still have other sources of revenue as enumerated in the very charter that created it, and also because they already receive an annual budget appropriation as an attached office under the Office of the President,” she said.
As an office tasked with administrative functions, she said MMDA’s funds should be confined to appropriations that are the same as those given to other administrative agencies in the government.
“The MMDA is not a political subdivision of the government. the IRA should be reserved for LGUs, as defined by law,” she stressed.