Escudero seeks changes to 31-year-old Local Government Code 

Published July 9, 2022, 12:00 PM

by Mario Casayuran

Returning Senator Francis ‘’Chiz’’ Escudero bared on Saturday, July 9 his 20 priority legislation under the 19th Congress, including a proposal to amend the 31-year-old Republic Act (RA) No. 7160, or the Local Government Code of 1991, in a bid to strengthen the autonomy of local government units (LGUs) through a more rationalized system of decentralization.

Senator Chiz Escudero (MANILA BULLETIN)

To support the autonomy of LGUs, Escudero has filed a separate bill which seeks to prohibit “any form of interference” by the national government on the use of the national tax allotment—previously termed as Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA)—and other locally generated revenues.

The veteran lawmaker said the filing of these twin bills was part of his campaign promise to be the “voice of the LGUs” in the Senate by ensuring that LGUs are genuinely empowered and autonomous as mandated in the 1987 Constitution and RA 7160.

Escudero served as Sorsogon governor before seeking another six-year-term at the 24-member Senate.

“Base na rin sa aking naging karanasan bilang gobernador, mas higit na may alam ang ating mga lokal na opisyal na patakbuhin ang kani-kanilang mga nasasakupan (Based on may experience as governor, our local government officials know how to run their respective political jurisdictions),” he said.

“They know what’s happening on the ground and they know what’s best for their constituents. Certainly, they are also more knowledgeable than any government officials who are just issuing directives and orders from their air-conditioned offices in Manila,” he added.

Among the amendments to the Local Government Code that Escudero is proposing is the “effective allocation among the different local government units (LGUs) of their respective powers, functions, responsibilities, and resources independent of any restrictions from the national agencies.

He also proposed the establishment in every LGU of an “independent, accountable, efficient, and dynamic organizational structure and operating mechanism that will meet the priority needs and service requirements of its communities”.

“For local autonomy to be made effective, it must amount to effective authority for local government units to decide matters concerning local affairs. And although it may not be absolute, the parameters limiting its exercise must not give the national government the power to restrict the actions of [LGUs] or to substitute its judgment with their own,” Escudero said in his explanatory note accompanying his proposed bill on RA 7160 amendments.

On the other hand, the “no interference” bill mandates all agencies of the national government not to issue or execute any rules or regulations “in the form of memoranda, circulars, orders, resolutions, guidelines or any other issuances in the performance of their respective statutory functions and duties that shall interfere, in any form, with the use of the National Tax Allotment and locally generated revenues of LGUs”.

The complete list of Escudero’s 20 priority legislation are as follows:

1. An Act Prohibiting Any Form of Interference by National Government Agencies with the Use of the National Tax Allotment and Locally Generated Revenues of Local Government Units;

2. An Act to Further Strengthen Local Autonomy Through a More Rationalized System of Decentralization Amending for the Purpose Republic Act 7160, as amended, Otherwise Known as the Local Government Code of 1991;

3. An Act Promoting Business Competitiveness by Providing Temporary Tax Relief to Single Proprietorships, Cooperatives, Partnerships or Corporations Classified as Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises;

4. An Act Promoting Business Growth and Recovery by Reducing the Cost of Business Compliance for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, amending for the Purpose the National Internal Revenue Code of 1997, as amended;

5. An Act Providing for the Condonation of all Unpaid Principal, Interests, Penalties or Surcharges on Loans Secured by Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program and for Other Purposes;

6. An Act Mandating Government Officials and Employees to Execute and Submit a Written Permission to Examine, Inquire or Look into all Their Deposits and Investments Thereby Waiving the Bank Secrecy Law as Provided for under Republic Act Numbers 1405 and 6426;

7. An Act Amending Paragraph (A), Section 393, Chapter IV, Title I, Book III of Republic Act No. 7160, The Local Government Code, as amended, increasing the Benefits of Barangay Officials;

8. An Act Lowering the Compulsory Retirement Age of Employees of the Department of Education from 65 Years Old to 60 Years Old;

9. An Act Institutionalizing a Comprehensive Social Benefits Program for Uniformed Personnel and other Qualified Auxiliary Service Members who are Killed, Wounded, or Rendered Physically Disabled in Legitimate Actions or Operations, Creating for the Purpose a Comprehensive Social Benefits Program Trust Fund, and for Other Purposes;

10. An Act Providing an Increase and an Automatic Adjustment Mechanism in the Personnel Economic Relief Allowance (PERA) Granted to Government Employees;

10. An Act Providing an Increase and an Automatic Adjustment Mechanism in the Personnel Economic Relief Allowance (PERA) Granted to Government Employees;

11.  An Act Postponing the December 2022 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections, amending for the Purpose Republic Act 9164, as amended by Republic Act 9340, Republic Act 10632, Republic Act 10656, Republic Act 10923, Republic Act 10952 and Republic Act 11462, and for Other Purposes;

12. An Act Strengthening Presidential Decree No. 1097, The National Building Code of the Philippines, as amended, by Mandating a Comprehensive Nationwide Inspection of Buildings and Imposing Stiff Penalties Against Building Officials Who Violate the Pertinent Provisions of the Said Code;

13. An Act Mandating the Full Accounting of all Disaster-relief Aid or Donations Received by the Philippine Government for Natural and Human-induced Calamities;

14. Philippine Immigration Act;

15. An Act Amending Section 6 of Republic Act 1379, Otherwise Known as the Forfeiture Law, To Provide a Fixed Percentage of the Value of Forfeited Properties in Corruption Cases as Additional Funding for the Office of the Ombudsman and For Other Purposes;

16. An Act Amending Section 220, Chapter II, Title VIII of Republic Act 8424, Otherwise Known as An Act Amending the National Internal Revenue Code, as amended, and For Other Purposes;

17. An Act Exempting Pledge of Personal Property Covering a Loan of Money Not Exceeding Ten Thousand Pesos from Documentary Stamp Tax, Amending for the Purpose Section 199 of the National Internal Revenue Code of 1997, as amended;

18. An Act Banning the Re-appointment of a Regular Member of the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) Who Has Already Served the Full Term;

19. An Act Prohibiting Merchandising Stores and Service Establishments from Charging More Than the Cash Retail Price of Goods and Services Purchased with Credit Cards and Prescribing Penalties for Any Violation Thereof; and

20. An Act Providing Automatic Promotion of Government Officials and Employees Upon Retirement from Government Service and For Other Purposes.