Looking ahead – RDC-CAR, through its committees, has taken initial preparations anticipating changes in program and project planning, budgeting, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation brought about by the devolution of certain government functions due to the Mandanas ruling.

BAGUIO CITY – The Cordillera Regional Development Council requested Congress to amend sections of the Local Government Code of 1991 to allow local government units (LGUs) to be guided in the changes brought about by the Supreme Court Ruling in General Reference No. 199802 or the Mandanas case. This is another step in RDC-CAR’s preparation to help CAR LGUs adapt to subsequent changes specifically in the expected increase in their internal revenue allotment shares.

The RDC adopted resolution no. 37 series of 2021 to request Congress to adopt the Supreme Court Ruling in the Mandanas Case (GR No. 199802) through the amendment of Sections 284, 285, 287, and 290 of the Local Government Code of 1990. This was presented by Director Araceli San Jose of DILG-CAR, who currently chairs the RDC Development Administration Committee (DevAd). Amendments to Sections 284, 285, 287, and 290 include deleting the word “internal” to describe revenues as it was deemed unconstitutional. Further, amendment to Section 284 specifically adds collections from the Bureau of Customs as part of the additional sources for shared revenue allotment.

The most salient feature of the Mandanas ruling is the increase in national revenue share of LGUs, and the Philippine Institute for Development Studies reported that the Department of Finance through the National Development Budget Coordination Committee estimates a national revenue allotment of about ₱1.1 trillion for all LGUs. With this, national agencies are expected to devolve some of their functions to the LGUs. This would bring government services closer to the people at the grassroots. The DevAd plans to hold webinars throughout 2021 to enhance the capacity of Cordillera LGUs on the planning, budgeting, monitoring, evaluation, and information dissemination considering the increased number of plans, programs, and projects.

Further, DBM-CAR through the Regional Development Budget Coordinating Committee called on regional agencies to list down their prospective functions, programs, projects and activities to be devolved to the LGUs. While an executive order has yet to be signed, DBM-CAR suggested that agencies refer to National Budget Memorandum No. 138 as their initial basis for devolved functions.

Relatedly, Congressmen Mark Go of Baguio City and Maximo Dalog, Jr. of Mountain Province, in a House of Representatives Committee on Local Government technical working group meeting for the crafting of a substitute bill for the establishment of the Autonomous Region of the Cordillera, called on legal and subject matter experts from DBM, DILG, and DOF among other agencies to enlighten them on the implications of the Mandanas ruling as it relates to the Cordillera’s pursuit of devolution and self-governance through regional autonomy.
By Marlo Lubguban, NEDA-SPCAR