Providing greater empowerment to local government units is key to addressing poverty and hunger in the country, said Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr., Chairman of the Committee on Local Government.
In his speech before the 2nd Liga ng mga Barangay-CARAGA chapter assembly at the Crown Regency Hotel in Cebu on Friday, Marcos noted that despite the country's economic expansion, ordinary Filipinos hardly felt any improvement in their lives.
“Kahit na ano pa ang gawin ng national government, kahit na gaano kaganda ang ekonomiya sa itaas, kung hindi ma-develop ang ekonomiya sa grassroots ay wala ring mangyayari sa atin,” Marcos stressed.
The Philippines posted a 5.3 percent increase in its Gross Domestic Product growth in the first half of 2015 following a 5.6% GDP growth in the second quarter. Despite this, the Second Quarter 2015 Social Weather Survey, conducted from June 5-8, 2015, found that 12.7% or an estimated 2.8 million families experienced involuntary hunger at least once in the past three months.
“That for me is a very clear indication that such economic gains are not felt at the grassroots level at all,” Marcos said.
A change in the policy of the national government is needed to change the situation, according to Marcos.
One measure, Marcos suggested, is that the LGUs should be given a larger share in the Internal Revenue Allotment so that the gains of economic growth can trickle down faster to people. Marcos told the barangay officials of his efforts to pass a bill to increase the IRA sharing scheme from the current 40-60 percent in favor of the national government to a 50-50 split.
Likewise, Marcos said he believes the IRA share of the LGUs should be based on all the internal revenue collections of the government instead of being based solely on collections of the Bureau of Internal Revenue.
The senator backed a petition before the Supreme Court to question the current basis of computing the IRA share of LGUs. If the SC upholds the petition, it would provide an estimated P92 billion annually to the total share of LGUs in the IRA.
Likewise, Marcos reiterated his call of to give LGUs more voice with respect to national projects to ensure the proper identification and efficient implementation of projects at the local level.
Marcos said the barangay officials should work to ensure that the next administration would give LGUs the importance that they deserve.
Meanwhile, Marcos reported to the barangay officials that he has sponsored his bill to provide them with retirement benefits, which he hoped would be approved before the 16th Congress adjourns.
Among those who welcomed Marcos to the assembly of the barangay officials were LMB-Caraga chapter president and Tandag City Barangay Captain Vicente H. Pimentel, III, former Surigao del Sur congressman Prospero “Butch” Pichay, Jr., and Surigao del Sur Governor Johnny Pimentel.