Local Government

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The national government in the 1990s sought to upgrade local government by

delegating some limited powers to local subdivisions and by encouraging people to

participate in the community affairs. Local autonomy was balanced, however, against the

need to ensure effective political and administrative control from Manila especially in

those areas where communist insurgent were active.

The 1987 Constitution retain the three-tiered structure of local government. The

province was the largest local administrative unit, headed by the elected governor and

aided by a vice governor, also elected. Other officials were appointed to head offices

concerned with finance, tax collection, audit, public works, agricultural services, health,

and schools. These functionaries were technically subordinate to the governor but also

answered to their respective central government ministries. Lower ranking functionaries,

appointed by the governor, were on the provincial payroll.

Te single biggest problem for local government ha been inadequate funds. Article

10 of the Constitution grants each local government unit the power to create its own

sources of revenue and to levy taxes, but this power is "subject to such guidelines and

limitations as the Congress may provide." In practice, taxes were very hard to collect,

particularly at the local level where officials, who must run for reelection every three

years, were concerned about alienating voters. Most local government funding came from

Manila. There is a contradiction in the Constitution between local autonomy and

accountability to Manila. The Constitution mandates that the state "shall ensure the

autonomy of local government," but it also says that the president "shall exercise general supervision over local governments." The contradiction was usually resolved in favor of

the center.
However, the Local Government Code of 1991 declares as national policy the

grant of local autonomy to territorial and political subdivisions of the state to enable them

to fully develop as self-reliant communities and effective partners in national

development. As provided for in the code, the President still exercise general supervision

over all local units in accordance with the provisions of the constitution. Provincial

government supervise their component cities and municipalities; city governments and

municipal governments supervise their component barangays to ensure that the acts of the

subordinate units are within the scope of the powers and functions granted to them. The

code also mandates the national government to see to it that decentralization contributes

to the continuing improvement of the performance of local government and enhance the

quality of life of the inhabitants. Both the code and the constitution affirm the supervisory

and monitoring role of the central government as Filipino political culture and

administrative experience under Spanish colonial rule justify.
The scope of local autonomy allows local governments to create quasi-municipal

corporations and to use BOT (build, operate and transfer) arrangement for financing,

constructing and operating infrastructures. However, local units have not aggressively

pursued nor taken advantage of this arrangement; instead they have settled for the

traditional approach to infrastructure financing through local revenues they are able to

generate, national government subsidies and loans from the municipal development fund.

Their reluctance to avail of the project financing, especially of the non-recourse type

where financiers get repaid through...
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