MEETING. Interior Secretary Benjamin Abalos Jr. meets with local chief executives from Western Visayas as part of his two-day visit to Iloilo on Thursday (Jan. 19, 2023). In a press conference, Abalos said the national government will be assisting local government units affected by the impact of the implementation of the full devolution. (Photo courtesy of DILG Iloilo FB page)

ILOILO CITY – The provincial government of Iloilo is counting on its savings and additional help from the legislators to continue with its programs and projects despite this year’s cut in national tax allocation due to the implementation of the Mandanas Ruling.

“We managed to adjust. We have two sources, our savings which is already there, and the additional help from the national government through Congress and Senate,” said Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor Jr., in a press conference on Thursday afternoon.

He said that the provincial government has been giving support to education, health and other services that came together with the ruling.

“Like education, before we already helped in the construction and maintenance of our school facilities and right now we are doing it through our Bulig Eskwela sang Probinsya Program. Number one component is our support to public school infrastructure facilities, equipment and other maintenance operations,” Defensor said.

Last year more than PHP200 million was downloaded to schools for the construction and repair of classrooms, water systems, information technology equipment, toilet and wash areas.

This year the province is expected to receive some PHP595.6 million for the upgrading and improvement of its 13 provincial and district hospitals.

The budget was included in the Health Facilities Enhancement Program (HFEP) of the Department of Health under the 2023 General Appropriations Act through the effort of Senator Sonny Angara.

On Thursday, Secretary Benjamin Abalos Jr and Undersecretary Marlo L. Iringan of the Department of the Interior and Local Government met with mayors in Iloilo province where they discussed among others the impacts of the implementation of the full devolution as a result of the Mandanas Ruling.

Abalos assured that the national government, upon instructions of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr., will be there to assist as he warned them to anticipate slashes in their tax share.

In a separate press conference, Iringan said that using the Capacity Performance Quadrant they classified LGUs as high capacity and high performance, high capacity and low performance, low capacity and high performance, low capacity and low performance using the Seal of Good Local Governance (SGLG).

“This is a strategy that we came up with to really focus on local government units that need interventions coming from the national government agencies. We can be more specific, we can be more targeted in our identification of LGUs. We will target low capacity, low performing LGUs,” he said. (PNA)