March 3, 2024

The merger of Baguio City’s 128 barangays will affect not only the city’s shares from the National Tax Allocation (NTA), but also that of all the barangays in the country.
The proposed reduction of Baguio’s barangays to 33 will also result in a reduction of the city government’s NTA share.
City Budget Officer Leticia Clemente told the city council on Jan. 23 that if the barangays were merged into 33, as proposed by the technical working group, the projected cut in the city’s NTA share would be P181 million.
The projection is based on the city’s P506M NTA share this year, which was computed with the 128 barangays.
With the barangay merger, the projected city government’s share from the NTA is P324M. The TWG has proposed the merger into 34 barangays, but Clemente said the NTA projection was based on 33 as approved during their recent meeting.
The NTA share of the city’s barangays for 2022 was P624,106,743, according to Clemente. The NTA shared by the 41,933 barangays in the country was P191 billion, which represents the 20 percent share of barangays pursuant to the Local Government Code.
While Baguio is projected to have a reduced share from the NTA, barangays from all over the country are seen to see an increase in their allocation because the number that will share from the NTA will be reduced.
“The decrease in the number of barangays in Baguio will result in an increase in the NTA of barangays in the country,” said Israel Baguilat, who represented Department of Budget and Management-Cordillera Director Irene Gahid.
He however added the increase will not be that significant.
Department of the Interior and Local Government Baguio Director Millicent Cariño meanwhile said aside from a more efficient governance, the city government is also projected to realize some savings if the merger pushes through.
She said the city government may realize a savings of P385M if the barangays were merged. The projected savings represent the salaries that would no longer be allotted for the officials of barangays that were merged.
The officials appeared before the city council to answer the members’ questions in relation to a proposed ordinance approving the merger into 34 barangays.
Another issue that came out is the requirement that if the merger is done through an ordinance, the city government will have to allot funds for the plebiscite and a section in the Local Government Code that provides that all the financial requirements of the barangays shall be the responsibility of the local government unit.
City Legal Officer Richard Dayag said if the merger is done through Congress, budget for the plebiscite will be from national funds.
On the issue on financial requirements of barangays being shouldered by the LGU, Dayag said the DBM issued a legal opinion that it will apply to newly-created barangays and those that were only renamed will still get their NTA share.
Dayag told the council this was the DBM’s legal opinion on Ormoc City, whose 28 barangays were reduced to only three. With the exception of one barangay that was only renamed, the city’s other barangays were merged and were renamed.
Councilor Betty Tabanda said while she is in favor of the barangay merger, she said there was a need to study the plan carefully and consider its implications not only on NTA share, but other concerns such as the Ormoc City experience.
“I am in favor of the merger of barangays, but those within the central business district in the meantime,” she said.
The city council asked the TWG to finalize the plans in relation to the merger and provide the basis for reduction of 128 barangays to 34. – Jane B. Cadalig