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Friday, April 19, 2024

‘Mandanas ruling makes 2022 local polls crucial’

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LOCAL elections may be more important next year given that the Mandanas ruling will take effect starting 2022, according to a former Dean of the Ateneo School of Government (ASOG).

In an Eagle Watch briefing on Wednesday, former ASOG Dean Antonio La Viña said the Mandanas ruling is expected to increase the budgets of national governments by 20 percent to as much as 50 percent.

La Viña said this is one of the “critical issues” in the coming Presidential polls. Other issues include exiting from the pandemic, social inequality, education challenges, China, and Islamic extremism, among others.

“A very big elephant in the room in terms of issues is the Mandanas Ruling,” La Viña said. “This is a game changer, I think, regardless of how this plays out, eventually local governments are going to be more important, they can have more money, the national government will have less money. Let’s see how that turns out.”

La Viña said he agreed with the Supreme Court in siding with former Governor Hermilando Mandanas. He said Governor Mandanas was correct in interpreting that “the 1991 LGC clearly decided that all taxes need to be 60-40 [percent].”

With this, La Viña said debates have surfaced regarding the additional mandates that could be given to LGUs because of the sudden increase in their allocation in the national revenues.

However, it may not be necessary, La Viña said, because the Local Government Code of 1991 already devolved certain sectors that had to be financed using local funds. These sectors are health, agriculture, and social welfare.

“For the local governments, this doesn’t mean they will accept new funds from [the national government and] accept new mandates because these were the mandates that were given to them, 30 years ago in 1991. There’s a debate about that because how much money will be left at the national government given the mandates of the national government is that enough, right?” La Viña said.

Apart from the Mandanas Ruling, the pandemic and the way forward will be at the top of the minds of voters in the coming polls. This will require candidates to create their own economic and health strategies to exit the crisis.

Related to the pandemic is the widening of social inequality. La Viña said this will also be a critical issue given the number of “populist” candidates in the coming elections.

Candidates that could raise these issues include Sen. Emmanuel Pacquiao and Manila Mayor Francisco Domagoso. La Viña said the two politicians know the struggles of the poor and the disparity between the haves and the have nots.

“I think that social inequality in all its forms, in the way it manifested itself in the pandemic as well as old issues that we have been able to deal with [before], could be a big issue,” La Viña said.

Other issues, La Viña said, include the country’s education challenges; relationship with China; Islamic extremism; and the threat to accountability in government, given the latest issue with the Department of Health (DOH).

La Viña said that in the Commission on Audit reports, these are common during this time of the term of an administration. The only difference was the reaction of the President to the issue.

Further, human rights will also be an issue such as the war on illegal drugs; the case filed against President Duterte at the International Criminal Court (ICC); and political killings.

Also expected to be critical issues are the Lumad schools and the youth sector; judicial reform; the peace process in Mindanao; and, to a certain extent, climate change.

On climate change, issues on adaptation vs mitigation and “elephants in the room” notably energy, forests, land use, reclamation, and mining, will be critical.

Read full article on BusinessMirror

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