TACLOBAN CITY – The Department of Agriculture (DA) Eastern Visayas regional office here is drafting its devolution transition plan with just a few months left before the implementation of a Supreme Court ruling mandating the transfer of functions of the agency to local governments by 2022.
DA Eastern Visayas regional director Angel Enriquez said in a statement on Tuesday that key DA officials recently met to discuss transition plans.
“We are presently doubling our time and efforts in the preparation of devolution transition plans for the establishment of a growth equalization fund to address the fiscal imbalance across local governments as well as creating an interagency committee on devolution,” Enriquez said in a statement posted on the agency’s official Facebook page.
The DA regional office will have to list down the name of employees that will be affected by the devolution of agriculture and fishery projects to the local governments.
“Government financial experts and Department of Budget and Management were one in saying that functions to be devolved must permanently be taken out from DA to empower LGUs to assume them,” Enriquez added.
On June 1, 2021, President Rodrigo Duterte signed Executive Order No. 138 directing that certain functions of the Executive Branch must be fully devolved to local government units (LGUs).
The President issued the directive as local governments are expected to get higher fund allocation in 2022 as a result of the Supreme Court’s Mandanas-Garcia ruling.
The Mandanas-Garcia cases resulted from the petition of Batangas Governor Hermilando Mandanas and former Bataan governor Enrique Garcia, Jr. in the Supreme Court in 2018 and were reaffirmed in 2019.
The Supreme Court ruling states that the “just” share of the LGUs from national taxes is not limited to national internal revenue taxes collected by the Bureau of Internal Revenue but also includes collections from customs duties by the Bureau of Customs. This will result in a PHP234.6 billion increase in the national tax allotment of LGUs by 2022 as computed by the Department of Finance.
The directive stated that the national government will be tasked to “formulate and pursue a long-term institutional program for local governments to strengthen their capacities and capabilities to fully assume the devolved functions.” (PNA)