By Perfecto T. Raymundo, Jr.
QUEZON CITY — Batangas Gov. Hermilando “Dodo” Mandanas on Thursday (Jan. 11) disclosed that the LGUs are entitled to a bigger share in the Php5.768-billion 2024 national budget based on the Supreme Court ruling and the 1987 Constitution.
During the pandesal forum at the 85-year-old Kamuning Bakery in Quezon City, Mandanas said that the budget of all LGUs almost doubled because of the Mandanas ruling of the SC.
Mandanas was a former congressman, a businessman, and an outstanding banker himself, and a former professor at the Dela Salle University.
Mandanas cited the groundbreaking decision of the SC which highlights Mandanas’ unwavering commitment to public service.
In 1978, Mandanas first joined the government as the General Manager of the Home Development Corporation, which later became MHSUD and now DHSUD.
He has a Master’s Degree in Business Administration at the University of the Philippines.
He became Batangas governor in 1995.
Mandanas said that the LGUs themselves are the ones more capable of delivering the public services to the grassroots level.
In his third term in the second round, Mandanas noted that Batangas has the biggest number of scholars at 45,000 students.
He stressed that Batangas has increased its budget from Php3.7 billion to Php5.8 billion or an increase of about PHP2 billion.
More than Php60 billion since 1995 was not given by the past administration.
However, the then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo allotted the Php60 billion in staggered or installment basis.
Mandanas was the Chairman of the House and Ways and Means Committee during that time.
He said that the National Internal Revenue Classes was listed in the law, but the government did not include all the LGUs in the list.
During the past Congress, he fought for the rights of the LGUs, however, he was instead removed as Chairman of the House and Ways and Means.
This prompted Mandanas to file a case with the SC for the full implementation of the Local Government Code of 1991.
The final and executory decisions of the SC on Mandanas and Tet Garcia cases were released in 2019.
The “just share” of the LGUs should be automatically released based on the 1987 Constitution, according to Mandanas.
Almost 30 percent of the Php5.768-billion 2024 national budget should go to the LGUs.
In his last term as Batangas governor, Mandanas has been fighting for the rights and budget of the LGUs.
He stressed that the amount of Php700 billion of the PhilHealth has not been properly spent for the beneficiaries of Universal Health Law.
Under the Universal Higher Education Law, scholar students are assured of free education.
Since 1992, the funds should be given to the LGUs.
“All LGUs, even in the barangays are seeking for funds for the delivery of basic services to their constituents,” Mandanas said.
Mandanas also stressed that “all Filipinos have the right to seek for a Constitutional Change for as long as it’s within the bounds of the law.”
A member of the PDP-Laban, Mandanas said that “we are in favor of the Federalism wherein the local government operates in tandem with the central government which both has their own respective budget.”
Under the 1987 Constitution, Mandanas added that “we are a Federal form of government which subscribes to the principle of subsidiary and local autonomy.”
The share of the LGUs has nothing to do with the government borrowings, but rather, all the National Internal Revenue Income or all national taxes as per ruling of the SC.
The 1991 Local Government Law which became effective in 1992, provides that the share of the LGUs should come from all the national internal revenue, which was upheld by the decisions of the SC.
Automatic release means it does not have to be passed by Congress, but rather, the LGUs are entitled to their “just share” from the national revenue income or all national taxes.
The SC ruled that their decision is not retroactive, but rather, prospective in so far as the Mandanas ruling and Garcia ruling are concerned.
“Real property tax is not a national tax but a local tax wherein the LGUs have the right to enforce the law on local taxation. Minimum 20 percent for infrastructure, among others,” Mandanas said.
He added that 3.2 million is the official population of Batangas province, 20 percent of which, are working and living in Metro Manila.
More people are working in Calabarzon than in Metro Manila and the population of Calabarzon is bigger than that of Metro Manila.
More production outputs are made in Calabarzon than in Metro Manila.
However, Mandanas said, statistics show that Metro Manila has biggest input in the Gross Domestic Product because the Head Offices of government and the people making the reports are based in Metro Manila.
Batangas with 34 LGUs, only produces 20 percent of its rice consumption, but the province has the biggest piggeries and fish production, specifically from Taal Lake.
Lipa City is the biggest LGU in Batangas province.
The culture of the people, the Verde Island Passage, the biggest marine life concentration in the world, the 98-meter statue of Mama Mary, which is taller than the Statue of Liberty in the United States, and the religious shrines are among the top tourist destinations in Batangas.
“Mawala na ang aming yaman, wag lang ang aming yabang (Our wealth may go away, but never our pride),” Mandanas boasted as the battle cry of Batangas province.
“Intindihin at sundin ang batas (Understand and implement the law),” was the advice of Mandanas to the Department of Budget and Management.
“Honesty is the best policy. Taas ang noo kahit kanino (Heads up even with whoever with),” he said.
The Batangas governor is open to seek a higher office, considering that several LGUs are now convincing him to run for Senator in 2025.