Barangays with only a few inhabitants will continue to be at a disadvantage even with the expected increase in National Tax Allotment (NTA) as a result of the implementation of the Mandanas ruling by 2022.
At a recent press briefing, Philippine Councilors League Cordillera chapter president and Baguio Councilor Joel Alangsab said big barangays will stand to gain more compared to smaller barangays as it is expected that areas with bigger population will receive more NTA.
Alangsab said this is evident as shown in the barangays in Baguio, which is Cordillera’s de facto regional center.
Under the Local Government Code, a barangay should have a population of at least 5,000. In the case of Baguio’s 128 barangays, some have less than 5,000, while one barangay does not have a single registered resident.
“Problematic sa ibang barangay sa Baguio kasi yung isang malaking barangay napakataas ng increase sa budget nila, samantalang yung ibang maliit na barangay walang increase or kaunti lang ang dagdag,” Alangsab said, noting that this scenario might or could also be happening in other municipalities in the region, or nationwide, even.
With a not-so significant increase in the NTA especially by 2023 where low revenue collection from the preceding year is expected because of the closure of many businesses and less tariff collection as a result of the global impact of the Covid-19, Alangsab warned that local government units might have difficulty in implementing the devolution of functions from the national government.
In the devolution transition plan, functions that will be devolved to LGUs will necessitate absorption of personnel from the national to LGUs, hence the requirement for additional budget and other trainings to ensure continuity of public service.
But with or without the devolution, Alangsab said the idea to merge barangay is to maximize the functions of barangay officials.
Among LGUs in the Cordillera, Baguio has long been planning on rationalizing its 128 barangays to only about 40. The plan never moved forward, even with four Association of Barangay Councils presidents jumpstarting the plan.
Alangsab said a congressional act might help realize this plan.
He said Congress can allot funds for a plebiscite, instead of the local government spending for the process.
Alangsab said he is hopeful that whoever will win as mayor of Baguio in 2022 will push the rationalization of barangays. – Rimaliza A. Opiña