BANGUED, Abra– The president of the League of Municipalities in the Philippines (LMP) said they are appealing that the President forego Executive Order 138 which orders full devolution of national government functions.
“We made a position paper addressed to the President [Ferdinand Marcos Jr.] na dapat sana wala na lang (hopefully no more),” said LMP president and La Paz, Abra Mayor Joseph Sto. Niño Bernos in a phone interview on Tuesday.
He said the poorer local government units (LGUs) belonging to the 4th to 6th class municipalities will have difficulty implementing programs and projects that are devolved as a result of Executive Order (EO)138 that ordered a devolution of the programs of the national government after the Mandanas-Garcia ruling of the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court ordered the national government to include in the computation of the National Tax Allocation (NTA) which used to be called Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) and the collection from the customs duties as a source of funds for the NTA.
Bernos said, “our earlier appeal for the suspension of the implementation was granted and it will be in 2027 but we are asking that the President further look into the scrapping of EO 138 because there are more local government units that will be affected and will not be able to afford it.”
Bernos cited his town as a 5th-class municipality.
“We are already hard up maintaining our barangay roads, what more if we will be the one to construct or pave the roads? Build school buildings,” he added.
He also said that Abra is facing difficulties maintaining the operation of the four district hospitals and making them finance the salaries of the medical workers will be more difficult for small towns like his municipality.
He also mentioned that because the devolution includes retaining the salary grades of the devolved officials, the doctors in a small town like them will be having a higher salary than the mayor.
“We are asking that this is also corrected,” Bernos said.
Mayor Alfredo Dacumos of Sablan, Benguet whose town is also fifth class said “it is difficult for us to deliver services due to limited funds and the devolution will make it harder to implement.”
Sablan is a town in Benguet adjacent to Baguio City via the Naguilian road.
For 2022, Sablan operated on a fiscal budget of P122 million budget with an NTA of P112 million.
For 2023, his town has an NTA computation of P96 million.
“We are 92 percent NTA-dependent. We do not have industries in our town and taxes only come from small sari-sari stores and eateries aside from the limited real property taxes which are internally generated,” Dacumos said.
“We were told by DepEd (Department of Education) that they will no longer build school buildings for us, it will be the LGU’s task now. How can we even do that if repair and maintenance alone have become difficult for us,” the mayor said.
Dacumos said that while difficult, they will have to stretch the funds available to them and deliver the services to the people.
Mayor Alfredo Dacumos of Sablan, Benguet on Tuesday said they will try to stretch the available funds they have to be able to deliver services to their constituents amid difficulties with more national government functions devolved to them. Sablan, a fifth-class municipality will have a 2023 fiscal budget of P96 million where all government expenditures will be sourced.