July 15, 2024

The city council approved the City Devolution Transition Plan (CDTP) crafted by the executive department, but subject to certain conditions.

The CDTP serves as the roadmap to ensure strategic, systematic, and coherent actions of the city government towards the complete assumption of devolved functions and services with the implementation of the Mandanas-Garcia ruling starting fiscal year 2022.

Under the CDTP, the provision of the following services is devolved from the national government to the city government: Primary health care services under the Universal Health Care (UHC) Act; social services for children in need of protective services; programs for older persons and in need of protective services; programs for older persons and individuals in crisis; agricultural services; employment services; and environmental services.

The city government, after conducting a series of consultations, has identified four departments to have residual functions and services devolved from the national government agencies over the transition period: the City Health Services Office (CHSO), City Social Welfare and Development Office (CSWDO), City Veterinary and Agriculture Office, and the Public Employment and Services Office of the City Mayor’s Office (PESO).

The devolved function lodged to the CHSO is the implementation of the UHC. This is to strengthen the primary health care services in the grassroots.

The UHC envisions equitable access to quality and affordable health care goods and services in the country and seeks to protect the citizens from financial risks.

Among the agricultural services previously rendered by the Department of Agriculture to be devolved to the CVAO include cultivation of seedling nurseries, provision of planting materials, prevention and control of plant pests and diseases, prevention and control of animal diseases, breeding stations, credit financing, fingerling dispersal, agricultural extension, demonstrations farms, and infrastructure and irrigation.

While the CSWDO has implemented the majority of the projects, programs, and activities for social services under the Local Government Code, several programs are being funded by the DSWD.

Under the CDTP, the following programs are to be fully assumed by the CSWDO within the transition years, 2022-2025:

Assistance to persons with disabilities; Recovery and Reintegration Program for Trafficked Persons; Aid to Individual in Crisis Situation; Program for Older Persons; Sustainable Livelihood Program; Supplementary Feeding Program; and Comprehensive Program for Children in Need of Special Protection.

The functions to be fully devolved to the PESO are the JobStart Program and the Anti-Child Labor Advocacy Programs.

Jobstart Program is a “job-bridging” program that aims to facilitate hiring for selected youth who undergo technical and life skills training.

The implementation of this program is in compliance with the provisions of Republic Act 10869 or the Act Institutionalizing the Nationwide Implementation of the JobStart Philippines Program and Providing Funds Therefor.

The Anti-Child Labor Advocacy Programs aim to decrease, and eventually eradicate incidences where children/minors are forced to contribute to their family’s income due to economic deprivation.

The approval of the CDTP by the city council came with a condition that it is subject to the availability of funds; is subject to the results of the organizational diagnosis and other studies being undertaken relative to the needed functions and positions to be created; is subject to the preparation and inclusion of national and external revenue sources; includes the designation of a city livelihood employment and cooperative development officer for the provision of cooperative services in compliance with Ordinance 95-2009; and includes the creation of specific positions to assist the city youth development officer in compliance with Republic Act 10742 and its implementing rules and regulations (IRR).

The creation of the CDTP is in compliance with Executive Order 138 and its IRR, which mandates the full devolution of specific functions of the executive branch of the national government to the local government units.

To ensure full compliance with EO 138, the city government has created a City Devolution Transition Committee tasked to craft the CDTP to be able to fulfill the complete assumption of functions provided under Section 17 of Republic Act 7610 or the Local Government Code and other special laws, which the national government has retained since the enactment of RA 7160.

The issuance of EO 138 stemmed from the Mandanas-Garcia Ruling in which the Supreme Court, in 2019, ruled in favor of Governor Hemilando Mandanas of Batangas and Rep. Jose Enrique Garcia of Bataan, and other LGU officials.

In 2012, Mandanas, Garcia, and the other LGU officials filed petitions before the Supreme Court questioning the constitutionality of certain provisions of the Local Government Code, particularly on the basis of the computation of the Internal Revenue Allotment shares to the LGUs.

The Supreme Court ruling affirmed that the LGUs are entitled to a “just share” of all national taxes collected by the government and not just those collected by the Bureau of Internal Revenue.

In effect, the national government will have to transfer a large portion of tax revenues to the LGUs which, in turn, will assume more responsibilities. – Jordan G. Habbiling