SPEAKING TO STUDENTS of San Beda University (SBU), Batangas Governor Hermilando “Dodo” Mandanas touted the importance of the Supreme Court’s (SC) Mandanas-Garcia ruling during the “Public Finance Series” seminar of the Junior Financial Management Association (JFINMA) held last November 18 at the Abbot Lopez Hall.
The Mandanas-Garcia ruling, finalized on April 10, 2019, declared unconstitutional the phrase “internal revenue” in Section 284 of the Local Government Code of 1991, directing the National Government to compute the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) shares of local government units (LGUs) based not only on national internal revenue taxes but on all national taxes, with the decision becoming final and executory on that date.
The ruling led to a substantial expansion of the tax base for LGUs, enhancing fiscal decentralization, and providing clarity on the use of “national internal revenue taxes” and “national taxes” as the basis for calculating the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) of the LGUs.
In an interview with The Bedan, Gov. Mandanas says that prior to the ruling itself, the LGUs’ means to deliver basic services toward the community was “lacking,” thus hindering them to realize their responsibility as public servants.
“Actually the responsibilities of the LGUs were really already defined by law way back in 1991, implemented in 1992. It’s just—the means to be able to perform our responsibility to render delivery of basic services… that was the one that was lacking, the responsibilities were devolved, but the means to be able to do it was not given all, so we were not able to perform. But now, with the Supreme Court (SC) decision, we will be able now to carry out our function – serving our people,” said the Batangas governor.
Gov. Mandanas, in discussing the impact of the SC ruling in his home province of Batangas, says that the additional revenue made the province able to improve its health system. “We improved our hospitals, bought equipment, now we’re constructing level two hospitals, we increased the compensation, we were able to buy not only equipment but even medicine, and even the health workers, the volunteers, were able to increase their honoraria.”
The governor added that the ruling’s impact also was felt in education, telling The Bedan that “[The provincial government was] able to give more computers, we were able to really have more capability-building for our people.”
Other areas of improvement that he touted were in livelihood, where they were able to “assist more the cooperatives, and at the same time encourage investors to go there because [of] tracking the necessary infrastructure” and in disaster and risk reduction, especially with the continued threat posed by the activity of the Taal Volcano.
Furthermore, while there are no new and/or additional functions in the set of devolved functions that the LGUs are encouraged to assume, the ruling nonetheless requires LGUs to “modify their organizational structure and competency requirements, that will consequently entail updating their Organizational Structure and Staffing Pattern and Capacity Development.”
Despite the ruling already handed down by the SC way back in 2018, and with its implementation already underway since the Duterte administration, Gov. Mandanas nevertheless implored the Marcos administration to simply “implement the law,” considering how “we are a country supposed to be governed by laws,” and the necessity of getting the administration to have the “commitment to follow the law.”
The governor, who holds a degree in Commerce from the De La Salle University (DLSU), expressed his gratitude to the University for being the first to invite him. “Being invited here, I consider it as really an indication of, also the commitment to, good governance of the Bedans.”
“But you could see the Bedans, the new Bedans right now, are really more committed and more dedicated in practicing their profession,” added Gov. Mandanas.
Prior to the seminar held last November 18, JFINMA had already invited Gov. Mandanas to a virtual discussion on the Mandanas-Garcia ruling last October 22, 2022. The recent seminar was his first in-person event at the University.