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IT’S high time that functions of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) be relegated to the local government units (LGUs), which have been at the receiving end of the blame over the agency’s snail-paced delivery of infrastructures.

Zooming in on just one case in Rizal province, the Taytay local government found itself at the receiving end of nasty remarks from its constituents for a project that is supposedly designed to reduce floods. I am actually referring to the road works along Kenneth Road, which is geographically covered by both Pasig City in the National Capital Region and Taytay, Rizal.

I personally went to the area to check on it. Upon arriving in the area, I saw a signage which read “Construction of Napindan River Drainage Outfall.”  What I saw was a half-completed road project – done with the Pasig side and flooded on the Taytay side.  

The signage also says it is a DPWH project, which costs P51.2 million, and should have been completed May 23 this year.

But despite the huge signage at the construction site, there were some politicians concealing their identity behind a Facebook group where they sow disinformation to gain political mileage. The disinformation seemed they were trying to portray the local government as being remiss on its job.

Well, for one, FB isn’t a platform for demolition jobs but it has certainly worked to their favor especially with just four months away from the date of filing of candidacy. Many are swayed to believe on the fake news that this group has been farming out via social media but does nothing to alleviate poverty.

If there is an agency that they should bark at, it should be the DPWH, which is actually the government office in charge of that project. I tried hearing the side of DPWH-Rizal District Engineer Ferdinand Manakil by sending him a text message. I got no response from this man who usually makes a prompt reply to my request for answers from where I would be running a news – or in this case an opinion piece.

Amid the failure of the national government agency mandated to undertake its infrastructure program, I am inclined to believe that there is an urgent need to devolve their function to the LGUs, which have been getting all the blame over somebody else’s shortcomings.

Delay in the completion of the P51.2-million construction of Napindan River Drainage Outfall along Kenneth Road in Taytay defeats the very purpose of the project.

Interestingly, President Rodrigo Duterte recently signed an executive order mandating the full devolution of the national government agencies – including that of the DPWH.

The President must have seen the effectiveness of the LGUs in identifying and delivering basic services to their constituents as seen from how they handled the situation since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Well, the President himself seemed convinced that it is proper to devolve more government services to the LGUs. Under Duterte’s Executive Order No. 138, “The functions, services, and facilities which shall be fully devolved from the NG (national government) to the LGUs (local government units) no later than the end of FY (fiscal year) 2024, shall include those indicated under Section 17 of RA No. 7160 and other existing laws which subsequently devolved functions of the NG to LGUs.”

There’s just one glitch though. Duterte’s timeline sees full turn-over of several basic services that each level of local government is supposed to be in charge of. The EO hinted at 2024 as the timetable.

But even then the EO seemed to recognize the potential of the local leaders. In fact, barangays are seen to take charge of providing health and agricultural support services while cities and municipalities would take the cudgels of maintaining communication and transportation-related facilities – meaning including the roads being used by both public and private transports.

The way I see it, LGUs would no longer be dependent on the national government agencies.

It further stated that local governments will have more funds starting 2022 because of the Mandanas ruling. In 2018, the Supreme Court ruled that local governments are entitled to a share of all national taxes, not just the national internal revenue taxes.

My take: Devolution should not take that long. The Local Government Code that was enacted 30 years ago specifically provides devolution. What’s keeping the delay anyway? 

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