The Ateneo de Naga University-Graduate School thru the PA 204 (Planning, Programming, Budgeting and Systems Analysis) and MBA 237-Strategic Management classes, in coordination with the Ateneo de Naga University-Center for Local Governance, conducted the Webinar on ‘Full Devolution of the Local Government Units (LGUs) and the Implications to its Services’ on December 4, 2021 (Saturday), 9:00 to 11:30 in the morning. There were 137 participants coming from the PA 204 and MBA 237 classes and the Cluster in addition to students across the country, and other attendees from both public and private institutions.
The webinar was facilitated by Mr. Jakechris Sicad, under the supervision of Dr. Malu C. Barcillano, Dean, Graduate School and Director, Center for Local Governance. As part of her message during the Webinar, Dr. Barcillano provided an overview of the Mandanas Ruling that will be implemented in 2022, highlighting that it aims to transfer the existing share of national government tax revenue towards Local Governments in order to address (1) the inequality in local resources, (2) improve capacity in LGUs, and (3) enhance transparency and accountability. She also urged to ponder on the implications of Executive Order 138 to businesses and the government’s ability to provide services to the people, especially those considered to be far from economic growth centers the most. Lastly, she shared that they cannot be mere consumers of good governance, that they must be participants, and must be co-creators.
There were two speakers invited to provide more insights as subject matter experts. The first speaker was RD Agnes M. Espinas-Tolentino, CESO III, Regional Director of Region V of the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA). She presented each level of the overall Development Framework as reflected in the Philippine Medium Development Plan and in consonance with the Ambisyon Natin 2040 with the vision of having “Matatag, maginhawa, at Panatag na Buhay.” She also emphasized in her presentation the Bicol Regional Development Plan for 2017 to 2022, with the objective “to lay down the foundation for inclusive growth, a high-trust and resilient society, and a globally-competitive knowledge economy.” Further, she also highlighted several areas such as the LGU compliance rating Targets, Key strategy of Human-Resource centered governance, and Sub-Sector Strategies to strengthen shared public service values both in the government and its constituents.
The second part of RD Tolentino’s presentation covered an overview of Executive Order 138 in relation to its implementing rules and regulations, highlighting its salient features and further breaking down and explaining each section. She further explained the implications of Executive Order 138 to the Transition Plan from National Government Agencies towards Local Government Units, such as scaling down, phasing out, abolition, and strengthening of certain functions and responsibilities. She finishes with a reminder to the participants that the role of civil society organizations is critical to the successful development, implementation, and monitoring of the Development Framework Strategies.
The second speaker, PD Melody E. Relucio, CESO V, Provincial Director of Camarines Sur of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) who presented LGU’s perspective on the Mandanas Ruling and decentralization, cited the need of LGUs to receive their just share from the National Tax Resources. As part of this, Executive Order 138 was issued for a smoother transition of this devolution from National to Local Government Units. This would result in NGAs being able to focus on oversight functions, while the LGUs would have greater accountability and responsibility to provide better service delivery to their citizens.
As part of the transition, Provincial Director Relucio also outlined the Basic Services and Facilities being devolved at each segment of the Local Government Unit: provincial, municipal, city, and barangay levels. Another highlight was the LGU’s responsibility to formulate and prepare their proposed Development Transition Plan, Capacity Development Agenda, and communication Plan and Strategies in partnership with other government agencies. She proceeded as well to discuss the increased share of national resources from tax revenues that will be received by the LGUs, comparing the previous annual budgets with the proposed increase with Executive Order 138. Lastly, she shared a list of recurring challenges for the LGUs, of which manpower or resource limitations of each LGU was one of the main challenges in meeting the devolution expectations.
After the two resource speakers, some members from the PA 204 and MBA 237 classes shared their reactions and insights on the implementation of full devolution.
Ms. Melissa Sieglinde Borromeo shared her takeaways on the aims of decentralization per the 1987 constitution. She shared her personal examples of strengthening capability development of LGUs such as women empowerment and developing local products into export products at a national level. Additionally, she cited that Executive Order 138 can be utilized by businesses for subsidy funds such as the current pandemic situation to alleviate the challenges of local businesses, especially for women-led enterprises which comprise a third of all micro-businesses.
The second reactor, Mr. Mendelsohn Mariano, paralleled the Executive Order 138 Development Transition Plan and Capacity Development Agenda to the businesses’ reengineering practices, mentioning that the need to identify deficiencies in the current process and the need to improve not only performance but the entire system is critical for both the business and the government. Another key takeaway mentioned was the timing of the upcoming national elections and the need for leaders to maintain the vision for their organizations. In relation to the elections, he urged the participants to actively engage in the elections and to the government, reiterating the statement that both the government and the individuals must be accountable and responsible.
The third reactor, Engr. Rex A. Resuena discussed further the legal background and context of the Mandanas & Garcia Ruling, breaking down the computation of the LGU’s just share of national taxes. He also provided several articles and sections of the Local Government Code that were amended due to the ruling. He concluded that the signing of the Executive Order 138 will grant LGUs greater capacity in executing their responsibilities.
The final reactor, Ms. Francis Grace C. Maristaza, welcomed the change of Executive Order 138 as it is a means towards the realization of LGUs responsibilities to be able to fund the programs and projects of their basic services with the boosted financial resources. She emphasized that devolution is not new, as the first wave happened in 1991 with the establishment of the Local Government Code. In this case, Executive Order 138 is a promise of transitioning towards a more responsive and accountable LGU, which in turn leads to a more efficient delivery of services. She added that since LGUS are given much more, so do the expectations that they must live up to. In this case, the upcoming elections are the citizen’s chance to elect leaders who have the passion and commitment, who can serve based on principles of ethical and good governance, and are able to guide LGUs in managing resources and turning them into tangible services.
The Question and Answer (Q & A) portion followed after the sharing of reactions and insights from the reactors, receiving questions from Facebook, YouTube, and ZOOM viewing platforms.
The said activity was made possible with the coordination from Camille Faye R. Badong from the Center for Local Governance, and the technical support personnel from the Fr. James O’Brien, S.J. Library: Sherwin Perez, Emmanuel Llorin, with the support from Ms. Edna San Buenaventura, University Librarian.
To watch the recorded webinar, please refer to the following ADNU-CLG links:
By: Mendelsohn Mariano, Student-MBA