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       Annual Report 2015       Trailblazer Jan to Mar 2016 

  DILG Takes Constitutional Reform Campaign to 13 Regions Govs,  Mayors Back Move to ‘equalize’ Economic, Political Provisions

The Department of Interior and Local Governments (DILG) has secured the support of local officials in 33 provinces for the national government’s advocacy campaign for constitutional reform or CORE following a roadshow campaign in 13 of the country’s 17 regions in the past several months.

DILG Undersecretary and Spokesperson Jonathan Malaya said the department expects more local officials to commit their support for constitutional reforms or CORE as it completes its roadshow campaign by the end of December.

“We have been getting enthusiastic support from LGUs across the country and many have signed petitions supporting the President’s call for constitutional reform,” he said.

He said that they will submit the signed petitions supporting amendments to the Constitution to the House Committee on Constitutional Amendments chaired by Rep Rufus Rodriguez next month.

Local officials are the first step in the information and education campaign directed by the President to raise public awareness and knowledge on proposals for genuine political reforms rooted in the country’s Constitution, Malaya said, as they have a direct link to voters in communities.

He said the DILG is encouraged especially by the strong support expressed by barangay officials as “they realize that the reform agenda of the President to ensure the ordinary people get more opportunities to improve their lives remain strong as his term enters its second half.”

“These officials have heard a lot of promises of changes that gave way to politics. With peace and order significantly improved as the economy steadily grew in the past three-and-a-half years, they are encouraged to see the President and his administration still firm in rooting out corruption and inequalities in society,” Malaya noted.

Gov. Melchor Diclas of Benguet said the local officials fully support the “equality provisions” submitted by the DILG to the House Committee on Constitutional Amendments that would boost the ability of local government units (LGUs) to respond effectively to the current and strategic needs of their constituencies.

“The attempt to ensure that governance is made more responsive and effective through the lengthening of the terms of office is a solution to the problem of learning curve that hinders well-meaning officials in planning development programs for their communities,” added former Camarines Sur Vice-Governor Fortunato Peña.

Gov. Diclas said the proposal to institutionalize the so-called Mandanas ruling of the Supreme Court in the Constitution is the right step in ensuring that LGUs get more financial resources for local development programs.

“Coupled with the political transparency and accountability reforms proposed by the DILG, these bigger financial resources should make the task of improving the lives of our people easier,” he said.

The DILG is proposing that the 1987 Constitution be amended to strengthen local governance in line with the President’s campaign pledge during the 2016 presidential campaign to give the economy of the poor regions more opportunities to catch up with the three richest regions in the country – Metro Manila and Regions 3 and 4.

In line with this, it has proposed the conversion of the Regional Development Council into a Regional Development Authority (RDA) with implementing functions and powers for its governing council composed of the region’s provincial governors and representatives from line agencies and the private sector.

The DILG also proposed the inclusion of new provisions that regulates all political parties and require them to be composed of and be managed by their members. To strengthen the institutionalization of party politics, the DILG proposed a ban on political turncoatism.

Mayor Romeo Salda of La Trinidad town in Benguet said the proposal to open local industries to foreign investments will boost the economy of many impoverished communities as these areas are opened up to development.

“What our people need are jobs that can put food in their table and help them deal with ailments in their family,” said Mayor Salda.

“There was a time when the current limit in the kind of industries that foreigners can fully own was needed, but this has resulted in less industries and less jobs for our people that drove many of our people to jobs abroad. The long absence from their families have resulted in more domestic problems than we have had especially as media becomes more available with technology,” he added.

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