Senate Bill to Strengthen LGU Autonomy

MANILA, Philippines — Senator Francis Escudero is proposing amendments to Republic Act 7160, or the Local Government Code of 1991, to strengthen the autonomy of local government units (LGUs), particularly over the use of their income allowances and delegate more powers to them .

To support LGU autonomy, Escudero introduced a bill to prohibit “any form of interference” by the national government in the use of the National Tax Allowance – formerly known as the Internal Revenue Allowance (IRA) – and other locally generated income. .

He said tabling the measure and related measures is part of his campaign promise to be the “voice of LGUs” in the Senate by ensuring they are truly empowered and self-governing as stipulated in the Constitution of 1987 and the RA 7160.

“Based on my experience as governor (of Sorsogon), our local officials know a lot more about how to run their respective jurisdictions,” Escudero said in Filipino.

“They know what is happening on the ground and they know what is best for their constituents. Certainly, they are also more knowledgeable than any government official who only gives directions and orders from their air-conditioned offices in Manila,” he said.

Among the amendments to the Local Government Code that the senator is proposing is the “effective distribution among the different units of local government of their respective powers, functions, responsibilities and resources regardless of any restrictions from national agencies” in the framework of the proposed “Law to further strengthen local self-government through a more streamlined system of decentralization.

He also pushed for the establishment in each LGU of an “independent, accountable, efficient and dynamic organizational structure and operating mechanism that will meet the priority needs and service requirements of its communities”.

For local self-government to be effective, it must amount to effective authority for LGUs to decide matters concerning internal affairs, Escudero said.

LGU authority may not be absolute, but the parameters limiting its exercise should not give the national government the power to restrict their actions or substitute its judgment for its own, he said.

The proposed “Law prohibiting any form of interference by national government agencies in the use of national tax allocation and locally generated revenue by local government units” – or the “Non-Interference Bill” – binds all agencies of the national government not to issue or execute any rules or regulations “in the form of memoranda, circulars, orders, resolutions, directives or any other publication in the discharge of their respective statutory functions and duties which shall interfere, in whatever any form, with the use of national tax allocation and locally generated income from LGUs.

Norman D. Briggs