The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) welcomes the overwhelming support of the 1,488-strong League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP) to President Duterte’s agenda for change in pushing for amendments to the 1987 Constitution, saying that “the solid backing of the municipal mayors sends a strong signal that local governments are clamoring for real change especially in this time of pandemic.”
“This is a welcome development. The municipal mayors themselves have spoken and recognized the urgency of amending the constitution because they recognize the greater need for regional development, particularly in terms of health infrastructure, facilities and equipment, especially now that we are in the middle of a health crisis,” said DILG Secretary Eduardo M. Año.
Año said that the manifestation of support from the mayors provides the much needed impetus to the DILG’s CORE (constitutional reform) campaign which they will relaunch with the opening of the 2nd Regular Session of Congress.
“The pandemic has clearly shown us that unequal economic development across regions is a grave problem not only socio-economic wise but also health and governance-wise. Thus, part of the long-term solution to this problem are amendments to the constitution as proposed in the CORE campaign of the DILG,” he said.
DILG Undersecretary and Spokesperson Jonathan Malaya explained that the Duterte Administration’s CORE campaign is part of the government’s long-term Balik Probinsya program which is the government’s long-term readiness plan vs pandemic. “The ultimate goal of Balik Probinsya is Angat Probinsiya which is to create economic opportunities in the provinces to decongest Metro Manila. This is what the CORE campaign wants to achieve – regional development, more IRA for the regions, greater investments in regional growth corridors, and lifting of the restrictive economic provisions of the constitution to bring in more foreign direct investment, among others,” he said.
“We thank the mayors for their support. They know very well the situation on the ground and they recognize that only through constitutional amendments will they be given more powers and resources to manage their localities and serve their constituents well, especially during a pandemic,” he added.
Malaya said that the pandemic has clearly shown that the financial resources from the top must be spread out across the country so that Local Government Units will be in a better position to maintain and protect the health and general welfare of their constituents. “The fiscal strengthening of local governments proposed under the CORE campaign is an idea whose time has come,” he added.
On Wednesday, Narvacan, Ilocos Sur Mayor Luis “Chavit” Singson, National President of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP), officially turned over to DILG Secretary Eduardo M. Año and Undersecretary Malaya the LMP’s resolution dated June 19, 2020 supporting amendments to the Constitution in simple ceremonies held in Camp Crame, Quezon City.
In its resolution, the LMP particularly called for the institutionalization of the so-called Mandanas Ruling of the Supreme Court in the Constitution. The LMP said this will ensure that regions will have continuous fair share in all the taxes collected by the National Government which will accelerate progress in the regions. The league also moved for the lifting of constitutional restrictions that bar foreign investors from entering certain industries to promote more employment opportunities for the people in the countryside.
At the same time, the mayors’ league also handed over to the DILG its resolution declaring its full support to the Anti-Terror Law which, they said, “will respond effectively to the long-running problem of terrorism and put an end to the fear and anxiety gripping and hounding other municipalities for the longest time.”
Despite a number of dissenting voices, LMP said the said law will “fight threats, and acts of terrorism with an expansive strategy to counter the risk of highly destructive attack against life, liberty and property.”
In the same event, the DILG received a donation of five (5) units of Bajaj tricycles from the LMP as their contribution to the campaign against COVID-19. Similar to a small car with three wheels and no doors, the said Bajaj vehicles were donated by Trimotors Technology Corporation to the LMP, which turned them over to the DILG for use by the PNP and other DILG front liners.
“Ang mga sasakyan na ito ay siguradong makatutulong sa ating mga kapulisan sa kanilang pagpapatrolya at pagbabantay ng lansangan lalo na ngayong mahigpit nating nililimitahan ang paggalaw ng mga tao. Salamat, LMP sa mga donasyon na ito” Año said.