Rockingham, North Carolina—I recently hosted the debut of a friend’s daughter so pardon me for being out for so long.
I’m also still attending to hubby Ronnie’s recovery from operation so please bear with me for the time being.
But I’m here now and just as I mentioned previously, I will write something about the Supreme Court’s Mandanas-Garcia ruling which will impact quite noticeably on all local governments across the country, specifically Cagayan de Oro City and Misamis Oriental.
To sum it up, the Mandanas-Garcia ruling fully transfers or devolves the delivery of basic services to local governments.
To quote from the UP-Los Baños website, the ruling ‘resulted from a 2013 petition made by Batangas Governor Hermilando Mandanas and former governor of Bataan, Enrique Garcia, Jr., together with other local elective officials, before the Supreme Court on local government shares of the internal revenue allotment (IRA).
The Supreme Court affirmed the ruling in 2018, giving the local governments a bigger share on all national taxes collected and not only from the Bureau of Internal Revenue effective 2022.
Hence the workshops and seminars being held by local governments with national government agencies concerning the transition of functions which used to be centralized at the national level.
Mind you, the transition won’t happen overnight and there are estimates of a three to even five-year transition period.
Along with the devolution comes greater accountability from local governments on their constituents who can now point directly at them for whatever shortcomings or failures committed in programs or projects.
Even before the ruling, the usual target for public criticism on delayed projects and programs is is usually the local government with the national government being held into account only when lambasted by local officials such as the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).
To be sure it’s the DPWH that gets the onus of finger-pointing and blaming by the public for their slow, oftentimes ill-timed implementation of projects.
How many times have we seen road projects being seemingly abandoned for months on end just because of a variety of reasons, not least of which is the delayed release in funding.
Roads that can seemingly last for two more years or so are suddenly torn up for ‘improvement’ or repairs to the inconvenience of the riding public.
That’s why I pointed out in my previous column (you can Google it at your own convenience) that it would be up to the current leadership in City Hall and the Capitol to make sure that the bigger windfall to be received from the national government would be used not only equitably but wisely.
And this is easier said than done given the mindset of the incumbent city mayor and governor of the province and let’s just say I’m having second thoughts.
At the onset of his term, Mayor Rolando ‘Klarex’ Uy struck me as a leader who, by his own words, wants a ‘participative, consensus-building’ approach to governance which includes instituting policy decisions.
For his part, Misamis Oriental Gov. Peter Unabia seems to be pushing an agenda driven by enticing investors to set up business in the province as well as reviving the tourism industry.
A tall order to be sure because the infrastructure specifically the Laguindingan airport had yet to be leveled up to allow more planes specifically plying international routes to be serviced in the site.
This is where the reallocation of revenues as enabled by the Mandanas-Garcia ruling comes into play.
With more revenues at their disposal—even though City Administrator Roy Hilario Raagas said the city will receive P200 million less in their allocation due to the pandemic—it would take foresight, visionary planning and leadership and political will from Mayor Klarex and Governor Unabia not only to steer both Cagayan de Oro City and Misamis Oriental province back on track but to keep it there at least for the duration of their three-year terms.
Yes it would be totally unrealistic for the people to expect dramatic changes in their surroundings or their way of life with any change in leadership, that much is certain.
And with more revenues at their disposal, it would be quite easy and tempting to opt for quick fix solutions to long standing problems like poverty (give food and cash doleouts for one rather than employment and facilitating more business openings) and promising housing to the indigent families who expect it and other services to be free.
Long term, sustainable programs are easier said and adlibbed away to a less discriminating (read: gullible) audience than actually explaining it in finer, crystal clear details, let alone having the clear vision and iron political will to implement them.
Then there are these constant word-of-mouth I’ve been hearing from my sources about some positioning done by those close to the powers-that-be whom I would rather not identify (for now).
I hope to God that nothing major happens that would impact heavily on Mayor Klarex’s administration just because of them.
Again, with more revenues at their disposal, those close to the powers-that be will wield some considerable influence on how programs and policies will be shaped and implemented at least within the next three years.
And I will join fellow Kagay-anons and Misamisnons in monitoring with keen interest on how our local officials will use these resources in the next few years.