Province of Davao Oriental, September 1, 2014— Gathering the local government’s perspective on better ways to improve some of the national government’s vitalsectors, particularly on local governance and public works, Senator Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos, Jr. led a multi-sector dialogue with local chief executives here on Thursday, August 29.
Being the senate committee chairman onboth local governance and public works, Senator Marcos said that he needs the counsel of local executives in order to push for better reforms in government policies.
He said that local officials here, who are considered experts of their own territoryand has affinity to their community, are ought to be consulted first on the issues and concerns hovering over them,noting that local leaders oftentimes knowbetter solutions that can best address these concerns.
In terms of infrastructure, Senator Marcos underscored the significance of having a national infrastructure development plan.
According to Marcos, devising a national plan for infra development is needed not only for today’s necessities but as well as in the coming years. He said there is a need to anticipate future developments, especially on tourism and new industries. “All these things we are trying to think in a larger sense that will fit within an infrastructure development plan, which we can apply nationally.”
The senator said that infrastructure has a direct effect on a nation’s economic and social underpinnings. He underscored that “the country’s lack of jobselicits the need to build infrastructures that would provide framework for both the public and private sector, for them to develop new economic activities.”
He remarked that infrastructure these days no longer talks merely of roads, bridges, and school buildings but also include power generation, communications, and transportation, which are among the required infrastructuresto drive the national economy.
According to Marcos, the country, in the last few years,has allocatedan average of 2.5% for infrastructure development from its annual GDP. Although it will be doubled to 5% in the next two years, he said it is still lagsbehind in comparison to the neighboring ‘economically successful’ countries around the ASEAN and Asia, who are spending eight to twelve percent of their GDP for infrastructure development.
In terms of governance, Senator Marcos statedhis support towards the notion oflocal government empowerment, raised by Davao Oriental Governor Corazon N. Malanyaon.
Governor Malanyaon, during the dialogue,calledfor some degree of devolution on certain authority concentrated in national government that would have effectively given the local government power to regulate operations such as mining and logging.
She said that while the provincial government does not have the authority to issue permits to mining and logging operators, apart from not benefiting on the taxes and charges, the provincial government is often left with the bulk of the burden in terms of social cost and infrastructure repairs caused by their operations.
In addition, the senator alsosupported the officials’ call that tax allocation for LGUs should not be limited to the 40% Internal Revenue Allotment(IRA) out of Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) taxes, but should also include all total collection of the national government, such as VAT and taxes from the Bureau of Customs.
Senator Marcos also backed the governor against the issue of ‘nationalizing’ theprovincial hospitalback to Department of Health as this had been one of the economic enterprises that the province use for revenue generation. Aside from the provincial government’s huge investments for its upgrade, the province has been managing well the hospital’s operation for years.
“I do not believe that health should be returned to the DOH,except to the tertiary hospitals that they are already operating,” said the senator.PIO