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Robredo: 20 years after, Local Government Code needs improvementOctober 7, 2011

MANILA, Philippines - Twenty years since it was enacted into law, the Local Government Code is more than ripe for review and amendment, Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo said on Friday.

Citing the changing needs of society throughout the times, Robredo said it is high-time to review the law to grant more autonomy to local government units.

But the official was quick to add that more autonomy does not necessarily translate to more power, but rather more accountability.

"The Local Government Code should have been reviewed back in 1996. It is stated under the law that it should be reviewed after five years but until now it hasn't been reviewed. That's why we're saying that change is needed and the Code should be amended," Robredo said in Filipino.

Among the amendments Robredo wants for Republic Act 7160 are an increase in the IRA or Internal Revenue Allotment of LGUs and making the national and local government jointly accountable for the maintenance of health boards and school boards.

Higher IRA to include performance assessment

Robredo said the House of Representatives has already approved on third reading a bill seeking to increase the IRA of LGUs from 40 percent to 45 percent.

However, he said the current proposal is not only to increase the IRA but to also change its computation to include the performance of LGUs, with those performing better given more.

"It's better if those who are performing will be given more power and capability. This is the basis of our Performance Challenge Fund and if there is an augmentation to the IRA this should also be the basis. It should not be the case where LGUs perform differently but get the same incentive because incentive will not be matched with the performance," Robredo said.

Joint accountability

Explaining the need for joint accountability, Robredo cited the provision covering health boards.

"There's a provision about the local health board. The problem with that is that there's a mandate but there's no corresponding budget for it. I think this should be studied ... because the public might expect
something from the LGU but the LGU might not be equipped for that," Robredo said.

The DILG chief said education must also be a "shared responsibility" of the national and local governments. The Code, Robredo said, has only three provisions on education: the naming of schools; promotion of Education officials; and the appropriation of the special education fund.

"There's power, there's budget but there's no accountability for LGUs. I think if one is given power and budget, there should be accountability and the Local Government Code should have provisions for that," Robredo said.

But in the end, Robredo said LGUs should not always rely on the national government.

 

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