NEWSFLASH

DECENTRALIZE BEFORE CHA-CHA -- ATIENZA

Manila, Jan. 17, 2003 (Star) - Manila Mayor Lito Atienza said the decentralization of government and genuine empowerment of local government units (LGUs) should be prioritized over efforts to amend the Constitution.

"These measures can be done immediately without having to introduce changes to the Constitution, which, as we have seen in the past few days, is causing division among our people. We should immediately implement the provisions of the Local Government Code and the Constitutional provisions on local autonomy rather than engage in a national debate over the issue of Charter change," Atienza said.

He cited Section 25 of Article 11 of the Constitution, which provides that the "State shall ensure the autonomy of local governments," as well as Section 289 of the Local Government Code, which provides that LGUs shall have an equitable share in the proceeds derived from the utilization and development of the national wealth in their respective areas.

Atienza added that LGUs have not received their share of taxes collected by the national government in their respective areas, such as the value-added tax, franchise tax and other revenues generated by the operation of various facilities such as ports.

He noted that the genuine solution to the major challenges the country faces now, such as stabilizing the peace and order situation and improving the country's economy, is by empowering LGUs.

"Strengthening local government units and enabling them to immediately and fully implement their own development programs is the best path to achieve genuine economic progress. Let us now give this responsibility and the corresponding resources to local government units," Atienza said.


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