With greater tax revenue shares come greater accountability.
On this note, Sen. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson batted Tuesday for greater autonomy alongside greater accountability for local government units as they start getting an increased share of government tax revenues starting in 2022.
Lacson, a champion of empowering LGUs in implementing local development projects, said this is the key to true decentralization in the country while minimizing the chances of corruption in the use of the bigger revenues.
“Sa tingin ko mas makakabuti na bigyan ng laya ang LGUs. Kaya lang, palakasin natin ang reportorial at accountability. Bigyan sila ng responsibility mag-report kung paano sila nag-implement ng pagbaba ng projects (It would be for the best if we give LGUs the proper autonomy. But the LGUs must have additional accountability, including the responsibility to report how they implement their local projects),” he said in an interview on DZRJ radio.
Starting 2022, the country will implement the Mandanas ruling that increases local governments’ share of tax revenues.
Under the Supreme Court ruling, Internal Revenue Allotments (IRAs) will increase from P695.5 billion in 2021 to P959 billion in 2022 – a growth rate of 37.9 percent. The ruling is expected to be fully implemented by 2024.
But Lacson said the government also has to make the proper adjustments to make sure decentralization involves not only functions but also funds.
“As we speak, the 2022 budget’s compliance to the Mandanas ruling is only on paper. While functions have been devolved, the funds are still with the central offices in Metro Manila,” Lacson lamented.
Lacson, who is running for President under Partido Reporma, likened the Philippines’ economy to being in an Emergency Room, even as he and Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III are offering their brand of leadership to address the situation.
“Ang ino-offer namin Kakayahan, Katapatan, Katapangan sa pagsagupa ng problema ng bansa (We are offering our brand of KKK in solving the problems of the nation),” he said.
One of the programs the Lacson-Sotto tandem plans to implement should they win in 2022 are:
* to fully fund the implementation of the Universal Health Care Act to provide free health care for all Filipinos
* internship programs for the youth and emergency employment programs to help Filipinos who lost their livelihood to the pandemic
* comprehensive targeted fiscal stimulus packages for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), implementation of eviction and foreclosure moratoriums, and grant of employee-retention tax credits
* a holistic approach to ending the illegal drug menace, which will include drug abuse prevention and rehabilitation instead of law enforcement alone
Lacson added he wants to leave behind a legacy where Filipinos have regained their dignity and self-respect – and what follows is just as important: restoring trust in the government. “Pinaka-important ang tiwala ng mamamayan sa ating pamahalaan (The trust of our people in government is very important),” he added.