The League of Cities of the Philippines (LCP), headed by its National President and Bacolod City Mayor Bing Leonardia, had a fruitful dialogue with Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Secretary Wendel E. Avisado on pressing issues confronting city governments today.
During the Executive Session, Mayor Leonardia together with various members of the Board, requested DBM to facilitate the implementation of the Supreme Court (SC) decision on the Mandanas Case, to expand the budget items chargeable under the Special Education Fund (SEF), and to revisit the centralized procurement of vehicles provided under Administrative Order No. 14 (AO14).
On the Mandanas Case, Secretary Avisado assured the 27 mayors present that the national government will respect the SC ruling. The decision to implement it in 2022 is to prevent a credit rating downgrade for the country and to minimize the possibility of incurring deficits for the national government. He said that the National Government will issue a formal commitment to give what is due to local government units (LGUs) from the date of finality of the SC decision.
Secretary Avisado acknowledged that current policies restrict LGUs from utilizing the SEF according to the realities of public education within their jurisdictions. He advised City Mayors to formally submit a list of proposed items that they want to be charged under the SEF. Also, he committed to convening DILG and DepEd to facilitate the issuance of a new Joint Circular on the SEF.
On the centralized procurement of public vehicles, Secretary Avisado said that DBM will be issuing a new circular clarifying the guidelines on the purchase of vehicles and domestic travel using local funds. The mayors applauded this new development.
In closing, Secretary Avisado pledged that under his watch, local funds shall remain within the control of local governments while Mayor Leonardia, said that meeting with the DBM is only the start of LCP’s more proactive engagement with national government agencies after expressing his heartfelt gratitude to the Secretary. To continue the advocacies of LCP on these issues, Mayor Leonardia assured the mayors in attendance that a series of dialogues will be organized with the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Commission of Audit (COA), Department of Finance, and the Department of Education in the coming weeks.