LCP presents Social Contract to President Aquino, upbeat for 2011

By Paulie Mora
January 19, 2011 - Metro Manila


Manila, Philippines - Off with a renewed vigor for the new year, the 122-strong member-cities of the League of Cities of the Philippines (LCP) presented to President Benigno S. Aquino III the LCP Roadmap and the LCP Social Contract with the Filipino People and the President during the 58th LCP General Assembly on January 07-08, 2011 at the Century Park Hotel.

Seventy-eight mayors witnessed the ceremony capping off the successful two-day event.

The Roadmap, which contains new sets of LCP programs and projects, focuses on reducing poverty, enabling good governance, and building harmonious relationships among its member-cities. The Social Contract, meanwhile, holds LCP accountable of their commitments with the President and the Filipino public.

"We want to position LCP as the no. 1 ally of the national government in improving the lives of the Filipinos. The Roadmap complements the call of President Aquino to bring and use governance as platform for social development," said LCP President Mayor Oscar Rodriguez of San Fernando City, Pampanga.

LCP to help build more classrooms

The LCP also inked a Memorandum of Agreement with the Department of Education (DepEd) to co-share the cost in building of classrooms. The partnership will provide access to cities to build more classrooms for their students. This will accelerate progress in the country's bid to achieve the Millennium Development Goal No. 2: Achieving Universal Education for All.

The Philippines is lagging behind attaining MDG 2 targets by 2015. The MDGs are universally-agreed sets of development goals which the Philippines is signatory.

DepEd Secretary Bro. Armin Luistro who attended the assembly's second day said that the partnership is an out of the box solution. Thanks to LCP leadership, he added, that have fully supported the DepEd's call. "This is considered as not your ordinary approach to a perennial education resource gap concern. This is the first time I think when the LGUs and DepEd will match in equal portion the funding for school building construction. Perhaps, some ingenuous and progressive LGU executives have done it at a local level but this is the first time that we upgrade it to a national scale" Luistro added.

Vigilant LCP against unwarranted cityhood conversion

Meanwhile, with only six months since given the fresh mandate, the LCP National Executive Board headed by its National Chairman Mayor Enrico Echiverri of Caloocan City achieved milestones in the LCP's continuing advocacy.

In the Chairman's Report, Echiverri reported the LCP "sweet victory" against 16 municipalities when the Supreme Court nullified the laws creating their cityhood on August 24, 2010.

Moreover, LCP is expressing grave concern over the efforts of some local government officials pushing for the cityhood of their towns which lack constitutional legs. Echiverri reported that of the pending eight cityhood bills, only three are qualified.

The Local Government Code as amended in the Republic Act 9009 states that applicant municipalities must pass the 150,000 no. of inhabitants and/or 100 sq. km. land area and the Php 100-million locally-generated income requirement prior cityhood conversion.

Echiverri stressed that the LCP will endorse for the approval of the cityhood of those which will pass the law requirement but will oppose of the towns which will not meet the LGC requirements.

Advocacy against the irrational cityhood conversion has remained an LCP priority legislative agenda, said LCP Secretary-General Mayor Hernani Braganza of Alaminos City.

In his LCP Legislative Agenda report, Mayor Braganza also sought further study on the implications of the pending House Bill 2000, which is authored by Rep. Pablo John Garcia of Cebu. The HB 2000 seeks to grant provinces a share in the proceeds of real property taxes collected by component cities.

Mayor Braganza said that an estimated Php 1 billion pesos revenue will be lost from component cities, mostly from Regions III and IV, if HB 2000 is approved. "Component cities are bearing a greater share of the burden of providing basic urban services to a growing number of the population (both daytime and nighttime). And this puts a significant strain on their resources," he added.

In Section 271 of the Local Government Code, only component cities and the barangay of the component city (where the property is located) share the real property revenues at 70\\\%-30\\\% respectively.

Moreover, Mayor Braganza said LCP will also propose for a 100\\\% share of all sales or transactions occurring in the LGU concerned instead of the current 70\\\%-30\\\% sharing for LGUs hosting the principal office of businesses.

Advocacies on sharing tax information between the Bureau of Internal Revenue and the LGUs, increasing LGUs share in the road fund, revising the salary standardization scheme, and transferring the power to appoint local treasurer to the city mayors also top the LCP policy advocacy agenda.

Mayors to work for long term gains

Meanwhile, in his message to the LCP, President Aquino urged the city mayors to work for the long-term gains for the people.

"There are a lot of opportunities for our country and we must be fast in grabbing them. But like in one boat, we must all row in harmony and in unison otherwise we will not get anywhere," the President said.

President Aquino urged mayors to be innovative in implementing major projects like the use of coco coir in containing soil erosion in the slopes of the Subic-Clark Tarlac Expressway. The original cost was Php 2 billion but this actually cost P500 million with the coco coir, he added.

"If we use our funds more prudently and wisely then we have more funds left for other projects," the added.

Speaking on behalf of the LCP, Mayor Rodriguez vowed support for the President's call. "The League is your partner in creating a culture of good governance, of transparency and accountability," he added.

In the Roadmap, LCP will expand capacities of member-cities to reduce poverty, increase their local income, expand small to medium enterprises, and lower their unemployment rates. The LCP will also enjoin cities to implement standards and reform policies and programs of the national government by strictly implementing the Anti-Red Tape Act in their areas.

The sharing of best practices will also be improved and institutionalized.

Among the major upcoming programs of the LCP for the year are the bi-monthly LCP Forum, which will convene cities' stakeholders and national government to discuss policy and national implementation issues affecting LGUs, and the National Convention of Philippine Cities in November 2011 which will invite cities and international local government associations around the world.

"Considering that this is our very first General Assembly after we thought it over last July, we are very happy with the result, the attendance and support of the city mayors from the LCP," said Mayor Braganza.

Off to a good start, the LCP is ready to face 2011.

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