Whiff of change in our governance landscape
Amid the alarming news on human rights violations, corruption and weakened institutions in our republic, there is a bright light illuminating the governance landscape.
The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) is unflinchingly exercising its crucial power of supervision over the local government units (LGUs).
Its filing of administrative and criminal charges against local authorities in Boracay for alleged failure to perform their clear mandates, including the devolved duty of environmental protection, which resulted in the degradation of the once-pristine island, is a shining example.
This should send shivers down the spine of non-performing local officials who do not care about delivering efficient and effective service to their constituents and their State-guaranteed rights to health and a balanced and healthy ecology, and more so, about accountability.
The DILG move should now instill prioritization by the LGUs of their multi-fold responsibilities under RA 7160, the Local Government Code, and various environmental laws, among other laws.
It should not be forgotten that environmental protection is a devolved service since the effectivity of the Local Government Code in 1991.
This includes protection and conservation of the marine resources and municipal waters and the livelihood of our small-scale fisherfolk.
DILG’s April 23 implementing guidelines for LGUs on fishing activities in municipal waters is hailed by many stakeholders.
LGUs which allow and tolerate the banned fishing by commercial fishing operators and destructive fishing in their municipal waters can be held to account for their gross neglect and failure to assume this crucial role as parens patriae that should safeguard the welfare of the people and the environment.
Under the “revolutionary” Local Government Code, which as a model law for decentralization has been copied by some countries, local government units are vested with tremendous powers and responsibilities to deliver essential services to their constituents.
LGUs are regularly allocated 40% of the national budget as internal revenue allotment which the President cannot even withhold as declared by the 2000 Supreme Court ruling in Pimentel v. Aguirre case.
With great power comes tremendous responsibilities. Local autonomy, which includes fiscal autonomy, requires the highest standards of care, prudence and competence by the authorities.
How many of the LGUs prioritize performing basic services and functions required by the Local Government Code, and specifically comply under Section 17 (g) that “The basic services and facilities hereinabove enumerated shall be funded from the share of local government units in the proceeds of national taxes and other local revenues and funding support from the national government, its instrumentalities and government-owned or controlled corporations which are tasked by law to establish and maintain such services or facilities.
Any fund or resource available for the use of local government units shall be first allocated for the provision of basic services or facilities enumerated in subsection (b) hereof before applying the same for other purposes, unless otherwise provided in this Code (special emphasis).”
Mabuhay, DILG! Keep up the great work.
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