Puno cites Sen. Pimentel's contributions to genuine autonomy and devolution
Manila (24 September) -- Secretary Ronaldo Puno of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) has extolled opposition Sen. Aquilino Pimentel Jr. as the acknowledged "champion of genuine autonomy" whose trailblazing initiatives in local governance had paved the way for the enduring devolution of political and fiscal powers to local government units (LGUs).
Puno said that Pimentel, who was once local government minister, had played a pivotal role in transferring powers and resources to LGUs through his authorship of the Local Government Code of 1991, which has helped transform barangays, cities, municipalities and provinces into effective instruments of delivering reliable basic services to the people.
According to Puno, the launching of Pimentel's book "Local Government Revisited" held recently at the Philippine Normal University (PNU), came at a "most opportune time," given the need to contemplate on how the landmark code can continue being an invaluable instrument of rapid growth for LGUs 16 years after its enactment into law.
"What we are launching today is a major step in this direction of reflection and assessment. I am certain that with Senator Pimentel—the author of the Local Government Code himself—behind it, this book will no doubt serve as a beacon to guide us in carrying out our programs at the DILG designed to all the more strengthen local governance via the continuing devolution of political an fiscal powers to LGUs," Puno said during the PNU book launching.
"On behalf of the entire DILG and our LGUs, I would like to express my gratitude to Senator Pimentel for being the guiding light in our mission at the Department to effect full devolution and bring genuine autonomy to our local governments, and for writing this book that would help us perform our duty to serve our people to the best of our abilities," Puno added.
Puno noted that the Local Government Code actually had several precursors, including Batas Pambansa Bilang 337 during the Marcos administration, the Decentralization Act of 1967, the Barrio Charter Act, and Republic Act 2264, all of which were aimed at promoting local autonomy and devolving government powers and functions to LGUs.
"But it was the Code authored by Senator Pimentel that has made the most significant impact on local autonomy in terms of actually transferring powers and resources to our LGUs," Puno said.
He noted that one reason for the success of the Pimentel-authored code is that among the code's key features are the institutionalization of people empowerment and the harnessing of the fiscal powers of LGUs so they can become more entrepreneurial in terms of raising revenues for their development projects.
"Senator Pimentel may be humble enough not to flaunt it, but the truth is this Code that he authored 16 years ago has served LGUs so well that autonomy seems to be the greatest thing that ever happened to them," Puno said. The Code is God-sent, for it had done a lot in correcting the anomaly of the so-called 'Imperial Manila' hogging political and fiscal powers at the expense of those in the frontlines of governance in our barangays, municipalities, cities and provinces."
Puno said that with the Code paving the way for genuine autonomy and devolution, the DILG has been able to pursue initiatives that aim to enhance local governance; develop the corporate powers of LGUs; and make them active and effective partners of the national government in pursuing its development goals.
"But despite these gains on the local government front, I believe that now is the time to review certain provisions of the Code to make it even more effective and responsive to the needs of LGUs," Puno said. "Senator Pimentel's comprehensive review of the Local Government Code in his book tells us how this law can still be fined-tuned to respond to the present challenges in local governance and national development."
Pimentel, who was a predecessor of Puno in the DILG, having served as local government minister in the Aquino administration, was also among the primary authors of Republic Act. No. 6975, which created a Philippine National Police that was national in scope and civilian in character.
The senator had also authored several other important laws such as the Cooperative Code to help combat poverty and the Act that created the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao to help dissipate the causes of unrest and secession in Muslim provinces. (PIA) [top]