MANILA – The agricultural developments in the country will be sustained in the coming years as the government prepares to fully devolve its functions and services to local government units, according to the Department of Agriculture.
In an interview with Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar on Friday, September 24, during the Cabinet Report, Agriculture Secretary William Dar pointed out that the impending devolution will strengthen the department’s relationship with local government officials with the aim of fully developing the agricultural sector.
“Gusto kong idiin na lahat ng mga sangay o unit ng kagawaran na dapat i-devolve sa local government units po na sa ilalim ng Local Government Code of 1991 ay nagawa na ng departamento matapos ipasa ang batas 30 years ago. [I would like to emphasize that all branches or units of the department that should be devolved to local government units under the Local Government Code of 1991 have already been done by the department after the law was passed 30 years ago.],” he added.
He cited as an example the recent battle of the country against the spread of African Swine Fever that affected the hog industry in the country since last year. Aside from the national government’s support, the local government has been playing a vital role in fighting the spread of the animal disease, he added.
Sec. Dar, on the other hand, admitted that the agriculture department is not in full capacity to seamlessly implement the devolution of its services due to lack of funds in the local government and insufficient training for modern technologies that can be utilized in agricultural developments.
“Ang problemang ito ang tinutugunan ng Mandanas Ruling sa pamamagitan ng paglalaan ng mas malaking pondo sa local government units. [This problem is already being addressed by the Mandanas Ruling by allocating more funds to local government units.],” he said.
The department also cited the establishment of the Province-led Agriculture and Fisheries Extension Systems or PAFES that keeps agricultural workers in provincial, municipal, and community-level on track on the latest technology and good practices in agricultural production and marketing.
The Mandanas ruling
In June 2021, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte signed Executive Order No. 138 ordering “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.
This measure will give local government units more funds starting 2022 under the Mandanas ruling which was penned by the Supreme Court in 2018, mentioning that “local governments are entitled to a share of all national taxes, not just the national internal revenue taxes.”
The ruling has increased the Internal Revenue Allotment or budgets of local governments by around 50% in order to fully execute and deliver basic functions and services to the people.
Under the said order, the Department of the Interior and Local Government is tapped to help improve and augment the capabilities of the local governments to deliver services and deliverables transferred to them.
“Ang pinakamalaking hamon ay nasa local government units ngayon, at ang Kagawaran ng Pagsasaka ay willing na tumulong para sa transition na ito. [The biggest challenge is with local government units today, and the Department of Agriculture is willing to help this transition.],” Sec. Dar said.
He also emphasized that the success of the implementation of devolution can only be attained with the active participation of LGUs and local communities to improve agricultural productivity and promote agricultural development in their respective areas.
“Let me assure you that the Department of Agriculture will fully support the devolution of agricultural services to LGUs.” he concluded.