Partido Reporma presidential candidate Panfilo “Ping” Lacson continued his push for the devolution of funds and functions to local government units (LGU) instead of centralizing them with the national government or its attached agencies, as he echoed the concerns raised to him by sectoral leaders in the provinces that he recently campaigned in.
Devolution or decentralization is at the heart of Lacson’s flagship Budget Reform Advocacy for Village Empowerment (BRAVE) program, which would solve many of the problems LGUs currently face and would be a cornerstone of his presidency once he prevails in the May 9 national elections.
In contrast, present national leaders believe these woes can only be answered by adopting federalism or changing the system of government entirely, for instance, from a presidential to a parliamentary system.
The topic was raised Saturday in an interview with Cezar Chavez on radio DZRH, as Lacson blasted the procurement of faulty agricultural machines and equipment by the Department of Agriculture meant for local farmers.
“Mas mainam nang direkta sa LGU, i-devolve na lang. Kasi ang nangyayari na-devolve ‘yung function, maski under the Mandanas Ruling, okay, nadagdagan ‘yung pondo nila (LGUs) pero katakut-takot naman daw ‘yung mga nasa menu na halos wala na silang say. So, ‘yun din ang reklamo ng mga LGU,” the presidential bet said.
[It’s better if these go direct to the LGUs, (the national government should) just devolve it. What’s happening is that even if the functions are devolved (to LGUs), and they get additional funds under the Mandanas Ruling, but there are so many items in the (national government) menu that they (LGUs) did not have a say on, and that’s what they’re complaining about.]
Lacson has long been pushing for his BRAVE advocacy in the Senate because he believes this is already the perfect alternative to federalism and will surely empower LGUs towards the implementation of their development plans based on the needs and priorities of their communities.
“Talagang dapat i-devolve natin e. Parang meron tayong pederalismo na walang pederalismo… Talagang i-empower lang natin, palawakin natin ‘yung papel ng mga local government unit. I think we’ll be good as a country,” noted Lacson.
[We should really devolve. It’s like federalism but not federalism… We just really empower, let’s maximize the role of the local government units. I think we’ll be good as a country.]
Once both functions and funding are handed down to the LGUs, the national government must only guide local officials in their proper use and execution through the regional and provincial offices of the concerned agencies, especially on technical issues that governors, mayors, and barangay officials may not know much about.
“Koordinasyon lang e. Ang problema, sobrang centralized. So, maririnig mo ‘yung daing ng mga end-users mismo ‘yung dapat nakikinabang na hindi nakikinabang,” the three-term senator added.
[Coordination is the key, but the problem is everything is so centralized. So, you’d hear the complaints of the end-users themselves, the ones who should be benefitting from (funding and programs) but are not.]
A concrete example from Lacson’s own experience happened during his leadership of the Philippine National Police (PNP), when he shifted the organization’s funds from Camp Crame down to the local police districts and precincts, which led to better salaries, benefits, and equipment to combat criminality and maintain peace and order.
Instead of keeping about 60 percent of the PNP’s funds locked behind national headquarters, Lacson as national police chief ordered that Camp Crame only keep about 15 percent of its funds mainly for salaries and operating expenses, with the rest sent down to regional, provincial, and local police units to spend as they needed.
Lacson vowed to continue this practice across the government once he is elected the country’s 17th President, in tandem with running mate Vicente “Tito” Sotto III and Partido Reporma’s senatorial candidates Dr. Minguita Padilla, Gen. Guillermo Eleazar and former Rep. Monsour del Rosario.
The Partido Reporma chief assured that through this budget principle and the provisions set under his BRAVE policy agenda, we could move away from the toxic tradition of misappropriating public funds and instead focus on developing programs aimed at improving the quality of life of all Filipinos.