Speech by President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. at the 4th General Assembly of the League of Provinces of the Philippines

Speeches 19 May 2023

Thank you very much to our Speaker of the House of Representatives. I won’t make any comments about the speakership as of yet. [Please take your seats.]

The Special Assistant to the President Secretary Anton Lagdameo; League of Provinces National President South Cotabato Governor, Governor Jun Tamayo; the League of Provinces of the Philippines National Chairman and Quirino Governor Dax Cua; the officers and members of the League of Provinces of the Philippines; my fellow workers in government and that is a very important part of what we are having – what we are trying to achieve is this continuity and the coordination with all workers of government. Kaya’t atin naririnig ‘yung ating mga sinasabi na whole-of-government approach, hindi lamang ‘yan in-extend na natin hanggang sa whole-of-nation approach. Kaya’t lahat ay magiging partner at magiging fellow worker sa gobyerno. And the other distinguished guests who have joined us here this morning; ladies and gentlemen, good morning to you all.

So I thank you very much for this kind invitation. I’m happy that I was able to attend. The reason I am wearing this is because we came from offshore from Zambales at nag-capability demonstration ang Navy at nagpaputok ng kanilang mga bagong armas. And that is why we are… Because of the continuing efforts sa modernization ng ating militar. It is…

I stand always in solidarity with the League of Provinces of the Philippines having been one of your former members, [applause] and all the other esteemed public servants from key branches of government who are here with us today.

This General Assembly conveys the themes of patriotism and national interest, which we have auspiciously worked to continue to promote during the first year, the upcoming first year, magwa-one year na itong administrasyon, and certainly for your own provinces and for your own political cycles that you will be facing soon.

So it is encouraging to see our provincial governors gathering here today with those same themes in mind. And it has always been my advocacy and those of you who have known me since before noong senador pa ako, congressman pa ako, kahit na ng governor ako ay it has always been my aspiration that national government and local government work together well.

And it was the – it is the change that I have tried to institute in that… Generally, the tendency over the past few years has been for national government to make decisions for local government. And sometimes those decisions that we find, tayo, tayong mga gobernador magi-implement, tayo ang gagawa kung ano’ng bagong batas, to field the new functions.

So this I think is the continuing theme that we are always talking about. Sabi ni Gov. Jun ganoon din that the unity. The same thing with the coordination with the House of Representatives and the whole of Congress also the Senate ay dapat talaga hindi lang namin – hindi lang national government ay nag-uutos sa ating mga probinsya, sa ating mga lungsod, sa ating mga bayan, kung hindi ay dapat mapakinggan ang mga suliranin ng ating mga gobernador, lahat ng ating mga local executives.

And I think we are starting to achieve that. We are starting to see that we put in line the programs and projects of the national government and coordinate with the local government.

And it’s a two-way street. Mayroong sinasabi ang national government mayroon kaming plano, at sinasabi this is the part that your province needs to play, this is what we need from you, from the governor, from the city mayors, even the municipal mayors. But mostly siyempre governors ang kailangan nagmamando because whatever happens in the province it is because it is the initiative or it is because of the work of the governor. [applause] And so you are very much the lead – you are very much the lead in bringing whatever programs that we have, bringing them to the people.

Kaya’t napakaimportante ‘yan. So now we begin to achieve that because I went back to the old system, the system that I was accustomed to when I was a governor, and that is the system of our Development Councils, the PDCs, the provincial hanggang regional, all the way up to NEDA. And that’s the best way for us to coordinate.

Look, the past few years for example – let me give us as a concrete example, farm-to-market road. Sa nakaraang ilang taon, may magre-request farm-to-market road napapagbigyan. Mayroon dito napapagbigyan pero walang overall na plano at hindi natin na-identify kung saan talaga ‘yung area na dapat puntahan nung FMR.

Kaya’t ngayon ay binabago na natin ‘yan at pinagsi-synchronize natin kung anuman ang programa ng national government para ma-maximize naman tayo ‘yung ating mga ginagawa.

Alam naman natin the resources are not infinite. Although our economy is doing better than most of our neighbors right now. Mataas pa rin ang ating growth rate. Bumababa ang ating unemployment rate. Dahang-dahang pinabababa na natin ang inflation rate. Kaya’t dahan-dahan talaga lahat ‘yung ating mga iniisip na gustong gawin, lahat ng ating mga initiatives will certainly be part of that national plan and that’s the coordination that we need.

So there is no slippage, there is no wastage, there is no – even the level of corruption will go down because very, very clear ang ating gustong gawin.

But this is in the phase of this transformation of the economy. Now we cannot do – I am not too proud to say that what I plan to do, what this administration plans to do simply cannot be done without the governors and without the local executives. [applause] It simply cannot be done.

Hindi ko talaga naintindihan noon noong hindi kinukonsulta ang mga governors sabi mahirap naman ‘yan, utos lang kayo nang utos tapos hindi naman praktikal, hindi namin magawa.

And I kept talking about this when I was congressman, I kept talking about this when I was senator. Kaya naman ngayon I have the opportunity to make a change, to make a difference, and that’s what we are hoping to do.

We will slowly move that coordination to make it closer because hindi dapat one-way street ‘yan. Hindi dapat basta’t kung ano ‘yung mga parochial na concerns ‘yun lang ang nadadala sa national government. At the same time, ‘yung national government naman ay medyo sensitive sa sitwasyon sa bawat probinsya at ang magsasabi sa amin diyan ay kayo mga gobernador at ang ating mga local executives.

Kaya’t marami tayong ginagawa na nationwide na project that are nationwide in scope. And that is why the cooperation between all the LGUs, all the different constituencies is becoming very important.

And now that brings us to the Mandanas ruling and how we are going to implement. As you may know, we have postponed the implementation for a year [applause] for one year.

And the reason we did this is that doon sa ginawang EO sa nakaraang administrasyon, hindi maliwanag ang sharing, hindi maliwanag ang devolution of functions. And when you do the numbers, ‘pag talagang tiningnan mo lalong-lalo na sa fourth, fifth, sixth class lugi pa sila. Instead the whole concept…

I tell this story all the time, during the time I was in the Senate I was the chairman sa local government. I was working together with Gov. Dodo Mandanas and Jessie Robredo. We put together this idea na ipaglaban natin number one it really started because when Sonny Osmeña tried to hold the release of the IRA. That’s when ULAP filed a case in the Supreme Court that it should be an automatic a mandated appropriation, which a case that we won. Kaya ‘yung IRA hindi na puwedeng galawin.

But after we did that, eh sabi namin alam niyo kung talagang titingnan ninyo nang mabuti ang Local Government Code, it’s a certain percentage of the total collections of government.

Pero ang ginawang interpretation ng national government has always been na hindi kasama ‘yung VAT, hindi kasama ‘yung Customs collections, et cetera. So ipinaglaban ‘yung konsepto na kailangan ng interpretation ng Local Government Code is very strict, and the Supreme Court agreed with us.

And that is why we now talk about the Mandanas ruling, Mandanas-Garcia ruling. We are now trying to put together the system and we have been sitting down with the leadership also of the leagues not only the League of Provinces but also the other leagues of local officials kung papaano ang pinakamaganda na sistema para sa pag-devolve.

The original concept – correct me if I’m wrong Gov. Dodo – the original concept was ‘yung extra na pondo na makukuha ‘pag naipanalo na nga ‘yung kaso na naipanalo na ngayon, ‘pag naipanalo natin ‘yung kaso doon sa Supreme Court ang konsepto talaga diyan, ang unang bibigyan tutulungan natin ‘yung fourth, fifth, sixth class, kahit na ‘yung mga third class na medyo naghihirap. Basta’t magbibigay tayo ng tulong doon sa mga municipalities at the time. Wala na yata tayong sixth class na province. But it was still during that time that we still had sixth class municipalities.

Secondly, the money was to be used for those provinces na nagkaroon ng napakalaking personal service sa mga ospital na dinevolve. I always use Ilocos Norte as an example dahil ‘yung Presidente taga-amin ang dami naming ospital, marami kaming clinic. Noong dinevolve, talagang – hindi talaga kaya. So that was the original concept that we had in mind.

So we are trying to return it to that original concept. What we are in the middle of doing now is identifying ano ba talaga ang functions na nasa local, ano talaga ang functions na dapat nasa national government.

And that’s the service – ‘yung service-oriented na service-based doon sa pagpili ng function. This is the – kay Gov. Dax na they gave me a study on this and I think that’s the right way to do it na ang titingnan natin talaga naman very easily identifiable ang mga services na dapat talaga ay manggaling sa probinsya.

Mayroon din diyan na hybrid. Hindi lang probinsya. It is supposed to be a joint effort between the province and the national government.

So that is what we are trying to calibrate now. Papaano natin gagawin – how do we do that so that the local governments are able to perform their functions and are able to provide the services to their constituents that are expected and that are mandated by the Local Government Code.

Although we went beyond the Local Government Code. Kahit wala doon sa Local Government Code kung sa pananaw namin dapat probinsya ang gagawa, eh sinama namin sa listahan.

Secondly, well the other side of that coin is that what belongs to the national government. So the simple definition for the services that really should be expected of the national government are those that are nationwide in scope.

Now, the hybrid areas are things like health, education where we need to work together. Hindi maaaring local government lang, hindi maaari national government lang dahil hindi mabubuo ‘yung ating mga pinaplano.

But beyond that – after identifying the functions that we feel belong to the national government, identifying the function that we feel belong to the local governments, again to go back to the original concept was that mabigyan natin ng extra funding ang mga local governments [applause] because simply ‘pag nakita ninyo especially – siguro ‘yung mga highly dependent lalo na ‘yung mga highly dependent sa IRA, ‘yung mga sa IRA mga 70 percent, 80 percent ng budget, lalo na ‘yung mga ganoon, pagka ginawa na natin lahat nung mandated, we put the 20 percent, we put the five percent calamity fund, we put all of those together, dagdag mo na ‘yung PS, ‘yung MOOE mo, wala ng natira.

Dahil first of all, ‘yung rule na depending on the class of your province is that your PS should only be 50 percent, 55, wala namang nakakagawa niyan, nobody can do it. It’s very, very hard to bring the number of your employees down to that level.

So what we were trying to do and what we are continuing to try to do is to allow our local officials na mayroon namang pondo para magkaroon ng – ‘yung mga initiative ninyo na mayroon kayong pondo para gagawin ninyo kung ano ‘yung naisip ninyo. Hindi lang ‘yung mga mandated, hindi lamang ‘yung mga kailangang gawin na wala tayong discretion, walang discretion ang governor.

At ‘yan ang aming iniisip na after we pay all of the payments that we have to make to our employees, all the funds that we have to complete, the 20 percent fund, the five percent calamity, all of those ay makumpleto na natin mayroon pa rin sana na mabigyan naman ng pagkakataon ang ating mga local leaders na mayroon kayong… I’m sure marami kayong ideas na hindi namin maiisip sa national government dahil hindi namin kabisado ‘yung sitwasyon doon sa inyo at hindi namin alam kung papaano solusyonan kung mayroon mang problema, kung paano solusyonan ‘yan eh kailangang magtulungan tayo.

So that’s where we need the initiative of our local government. Malakas naman ang loob ko because I have always declared that some of the best talents that I have ever come across in government comes from the local government. [applause] Marami talagang magaling na governor, maraming magaling na city mayor, marami talagang na kung… Lahat ‘yan puwede mag-senador but they prefer not to.

So this is the general idea of what we are trying to do. Now, we postponed for one year dahil sa palagay namin since the IRA will be based on the three years before, napakaliit naman ng koleksyon three years ago. So hindi talaga magkaka – kahit na i-implement natin, hindi magkaka-effect sa IRA ninyo.

So sabi namin let’s take the time and postpone it for another year. We gave ourselves until the end of this year, of 2023, we gave ourselves until the end of this year. And we will then put another – I will then sign another executive order putting into place all – and defining very clearly which of the services, which of the functions belong to the local government and which belong to the national government.

It does not mean na walang made-devolve. Mayroong mga made-devolve na function. Pero ang kaibahan dito ‘yung pag-devolve ng function may kasabay na item, may kasabay na funding, may kasabay na training. [applause] Useless naman sulat kami nang sulat ng batas tapos kung ano-anong pina… You have to organize a housing ano – you have to have a housing board or something, eh sabi ko dito sa amin wala namang expert sa housing so sino — ? Kung sino ‘yung mga department head mo ‘yun na lang ang ilalagay mo ‘di ba? That’s always what happens.

So we are trying to get around that. And so that we are supportive talaga of what… Because if we talk about the partnership between national and local government, marami talaga kaming hihingiin sa inyo na gagawin. But at the same time, we have to also give you the capability. So you have to have the people who can do it, the people who are trained. And if they are not trained, then we will bring people to come in.

Like sa land use plan, hindi ba, hindi naman lahat expert. Marami tayong expert pero maraming hindi. So kukuha tayo maybe we’ll get them from HLURB ‘yan ang mga expert sa ganyan. Pupuntahan kayo para tulungan kayo doon sa land use which is something that we really, really need already.

So those are the kinds of things that we are looking at, na these are the ones that are very clearly belong to the local government, the ones that are clearly belong to the national government, and the functions that must be undertaken by the local government and the national government together.

And hopefully basta’t we will – si Gov. Dodo and I will crunch the numbers. Si Gov. Dodo magaling ‘yan makahanap ng pera eh. So he’s always been good at finding a way, that we will find a way as much as we can to give especially the poorer provinces the ones with the – in the lower classification mabigyan ng kaunting breathing room ika nga para sa ating mga gobernador para naman mayroon silang pondo ‘pag mayroon silang sariling idea na alam nilang maganda o matagal na nilang gustong gawin. I’m sure all of you have these projects in the back of your mind na sana kung magkapondo ang probinsya, ito gagawin natin, ito ‘yung gagawin natin.

To give a chance to our local government officials to be able to act on their initiatives. And that is the general idea. That was the general idea behind the filing of that case that eventually we won. And that is the general idea behind our discussions with your leadership on how we will then implement the Mandanas ruling.

We are continuing to consult with the leadership. Hindi namin gagawin ito na again sarili lang namin. We will ask you. We are continuing to have an exchange of ideas and to see really what are the practical considerations that we have to take into account. So that’s the state of the Mandanas ruling.

I noted also the – I suppose we can call it a report by our Speaker doon sa mga batas na naging priority. Kung makikita ninyo halos lahat diyan may involvement at saka may participation ang local government.

So once again, being a – I don’t know how you would call me, ‘yung tawag ko sa sarili ko when it comes to politics laking local government ako and being one of those and we have always included the local government in all of our plans. That is why if you will look at the bills that the Speaker mentioned, eh maliwanag talaga na may – kailangan maging mahusay ang coordination between local and the national government.

So asahan hindi na hindi kayo – you are not working in a vacuum. You are not working in a vacuum. We are watching, we are asking, we are consulting with you. And in that way, we will come out with a good EO at the end of the year for a good implementation of the very important Supreme Court decision now we call the Mandanas-Garcia ruling, and to even further strengthen the coordination and the partnership between the local governments and the national government.

I think we are headed in the right direction where hindi pa tayo tapos. Marami pa tayong gagawin. Although I think we are headed in the right direction. We will get there with your help, we will get there. And this will be to the benefit of all our constituents. [applause]

So let’s keep that partnership strong and let’s work hard. And I’m sure that we will succeed and to the benefit of all those that have – that are in need of our help and of our services as public servant.

Maraming salamat sa inyo. Magandang tanghali sa inyong lahat. [applause]

— END —

SOURCE: PCO-PND (Presidential News Desk)