Charter change at this time?

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    ‘We just wonder why, if this is a Supreme Court decision, would the Executive Department… not comply with the High Tribunal’s directive?’

    THE League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP) composed of
    all the mayors of the country has passed a unanimous resolution pushing for constitutional reforms or Charter Change with the objective of empowering local government units to resolve “social ills that have promoted corruption in government.”

    The group, led by Narvacan, Ilocos Sur Mayor Luis “Chavit” Singson, said the Charter amendments that they are supporting will boost the economic progress in their localities especially in far-flung areas.

    The LMP, which submitted its resolution to the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), specifically wants to institutionalize or make permanent the so-called “Mandanas ruling” of the Supreme Court and the lifting of restrictions on foreign investments in industries and businesses which are now limited to Filipinos.

    The easing of investment rules to accommodate more foreign investors, such as the ownership of land and the beneficial ownership of a greater percentage of capitalization in certain businesses, has been a topic for discussion in Congress, in media and the academe.

    However, the Supreme Court’s “Mandanas ruling” is popular and cherished only by local officials, and we doubt if a good number of Filipino lawyers are familiar with this decision.

    The Supreme Court’s 2018 ruling was won by Batangas Gov. Hermilando Mandanas in a long-running case. It stipulates that the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) of local government units should come from all national taxes, as mandated by the Local Government Code, and not from just the taxes collected by the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) within the LGU jurisdictions as is the usual practice.

    The decision, in effect, should give the LGUs bigger IRA shares from the national revenue pie. The Philippine Councilors League (PCL) estimates that the IRA base will surge to P354 billion in 2022, P382 billion in 2023, P420 billion in 2024, and P466 billion in 2025.

    We just wonder why, if this is a Supreme Court decision, would the Executive Department specifically the departments of finance and budget and management, not comply with the High Tribunal’s directive? Of course, writing this item in the Constitution will give it a stronger terra firma foundation, but the 1,488 mayors surely know that opening up the Constitution for even a minor rewrite is expensive, takes time, and should be touted as relevant enough to get the support of our senators and representatives.

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