TOP L-R: VP IMELDA CALUEN FROM DAP-CFG, AND DIR. EMELITA BAILON MENGHAMAL FROM DBM; MIDDLE L-R: SVP MAGDALENA L. MENDOZA FROM DAP, ASEC. JOSELINE P. NIWANE FROM DSWD, FORMER USEC. LAURA PASCUA FROM DBM, AND DR. ROMULO EMMANUEL M. MIRAL, JR. FROM CPBRD HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES; BOTTOM: CHIEF BUDGET AND MANAGEMENT SPECIALIST ROCHELLE F. RAMIREZ FROM DBM – Photo collage by Natalie Narciso
8 July 2021 – The Development Academy of the Philippines Center for Governance – Policy Research Office (CfG-PRO) discussed the issue of full devolution in the third installment of the Thursday Talks Webinar series entitled “Gearing Up for Full Devolution” under the Capability Building on Innovative Leadership for Legislative Staff (CBILLS) program. This webinar is the first of the two-part discussion on devolution in line with the implementation of the Mandanas ruling.
The first session of the webinar, led by DBM Systems and Productivity Improvement Bureau Chief Ms. Rochelle F. Ramirez, highlighted several points including the salient features of Executive Order No. 138, s. 2021, ensuring better services for the public, and the importance of strengthening the monitoring and evaluation services for devolved services. Ms. Ramirez emphasized that the ultimate objective of the devolution was to phase out, scale down, and discontinue the programs, activities, and projects (PAPs) that exist both within the National Government and the LGUs by focusing on efforts of the latter.
House of Representatives-Congressional Policy and Budget Research Department Deputy Secretary General Dr. Romulo Emmanuel M. Miral, Jr. discussed the topic of “rethinking the LGU Share” during the second session. Dr. Miral provided a review on decentralization, which included intergovernmental transfers, the strengths and weaknesses of the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA), and a discussion on how the implementation of the Mandanas ruling affects the legislative proposals on the determination of LGU shares.
Additionally, Dr. Miral explained that the implementation of the Mandanas Ruling does not resolve the “bigger and stronger problems,” such as the highly fragmented government system that exists in the country and LGUs becoming more dependent on the funding from IRAs received from the national government instead of building on its revenue-raising power.
In the first segment of the third session, DSWD Assistant Secretary for Policy and Plans Ms. Joseline P. Niwane discussed the agency’s devolution transition plan, went over the Social Welfare Services that are planned to be implemented by 2022, and gave an overview of the challenges and opportunities that the Transition Plan and Services presented.
DAP Senior Vice-President for Programs Ms. Magdalena L. Mendoza led the discussion of the capacity building for devolution transition during the second segment. Ms. Mendoza highlighted the strengthening of capacity building on the service delivery, the issues with capacity building, and possible solutions to overcome the issues.
The sessions were followed by an open forum moderated by DAP Vice-President and Center for Governance Managing Director Imelda C. Caluen wherein the participating members of the Philippine Congress from the Zoom Room or the LGU representatives tuning in the Facebook Live were able to send questions to the resource persons. Joining the open forum were former Undersecretary Laura B. Pascua and Director Emelita Bailon Menghamal, both from the DBM. Questions regarding the growth equity fund, the readiness of LGUs in terms of the transition of responsibilities, and what to expect with the incoming 2022 fiscal-year budget were asked, further enriching the discussion on devolution.
The resource persons gave final comments on how they see the development of the Mandanas Ruling in terms of its impact on the Philippine economy and the state of development and if this would deliver more access to services. Dr. Miral stated that this would be a challenge due to the pandemic and added that the proper allocation of funds should be done by the LGUs and National Government otherwise the money will remain idle. Director Menghamal shared that she believes that devolution should have been implemented a long time ago as the allocation of the funds will push LGUs to perform the functions that they could not perform before.
Former Usec. Pascua ended the forum on a positive note and hopes that the Congress will give EO No.138 a chance and be supportive of the devolution efforts that will help push the country forward.
The livestream of this event can still be accessed through the Policy Research Office Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/DAPCFGPRO. The second of the two-part webinar discussion entitled, “Devolution Ready: Realizing Meaningful Autonomy” will be held on July 29.