LGUs to enjoy independence even with autonomy
TUBA, Benguet, August 03 – Barangays, municipalities, cities and provinces will continue to enjoy independence from each other even if the Cordillera will become autonomous, a private sector representative of the Regional Development Council (RDC) in the Cordillera said.
Dr. Peter M. Cosalan, Benguet's private sector representative to the RDC-CAR, said the local governments hosting mining, hydroelectric and other companies exploiting, utilizing and developing resources will be the ones to directly benefit from such operations contrary to the fear of some people that other local governments outside the host communities will also take part in the share of the host communities from the national wealth tax equivalent to 40 percent.
Moreover, Cosalan explained that barangays, municipalities, cities and provinces will continue to enjoy their current status, they will continue to have their current set of officials, receive their Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) without deduction and will continue to enjoy the rights and privileges they are currently enjoying even if the region will achieve autonomous status, thus, there is no truth to the fear being espoused by critics that poorer local governments will be sharing from the IRA of richer local governments.
"Local governments will continue to be independent from each other even if the third autonomy law will be ratified since the Organic Act recognizes the independence of local governments," Dr. Cosalan stressed, underscoring that what the regional government wants is also a 40 percent share from the 60 percent share of the national government from the national wealth tax which is totally different from the 40 percent share of host communities from the wealth tax which is mandatory.
He explained the advantage of achieving autonomy is that local governments entitled to a 40 percent share from the national wealth tax will no longer have to waste their time, money and resources in following up the release of their share from the national government since their share will now be directly remitted to them while the share of the regional government will also be given automatically.
Cosalan was one of the speakers on the recently information and education campaign sponsored by the Philex Mining Corporation so that people with questions and doubts in the renewed quest for regional autonomy will be clarified on their queries.
The RDC-CAR private sector representative pointed out development of remote villages in the region will be guaranteed because the funds that will be allocated for development will now be in the coffers of local governments that will be ready for immediate disbursement as the need arises.
Cosalan cited local governments will no longer be clothed with the national policy on various programs and projects but instead, they will have more independence to decide on what is most feasible in the region and the provinces, thus, they are the ones to be prioritized in terms of development.
"In our current set up, we have to abide by existing national policies even if they are not applicable in the region. Once we achieve autonomy, we will be the ones to decide our priorities in agriculture, education, ecotourism, among others," Cosalan said.**