Former House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano on Wednesday called for a five-year plan to boost local government spending in growth areas around the country, saying development needs to be spread more evenly among the regions.
“Kailangan nating baguhin y’ung local government at y’ung internal revenue allotment, at y’ung may potential katulad ninyo na nakapaligid sa Clark, madagdagan y’ung budget ng probinsya niyo ng five-year plan – y’ung regular plus y’ung extra – para makadiskarte kayo,” Cayetano said as he addressed local leaders from Tarlac City at a capability-building seminar in Tagaytay City, Cavite on March 16, 2022.
(We need to change the local government and the internal revenue allotment. Areas with high potential like those around Clark, your provincial budgets should be augmented with a five-year plan – a regular budget plus an extra budget – so you can make your own decisions.)
The former Speaker said focusing on growth areas like Clark in Central Luzon and empowering adjacent cities such as Tarlac City with a five-year-plan involving the injection of additional money for targeted programs will help close the gap between urban and rural parts of the country.
“Kung bibigyan kayo ng extra na budget, there is so much you can do,” he said.
(If you are given extra budget allocations, there is so much you can do.)
Cayetano cited a similar program implemented among cities in Japan that provides money to local governments for development over five to six years, subject to stringent performance and impact assessments.
He said the five-year-plan he is suggesting should go towards developing health centers in all barangays in the country as well addressing the staffing needs of the new health centers, among other programs designed to bring development closer to people in the countryside.
Cayetano said all this development activity at the local government level should be guided by a “national minimum necessities program” that seeks to establish a standard for health, education, and other frontline government services in all towns and cities across the country.
“That’s a few things na kung papayagan niyo (that if you allow me to), I want to do and help you in the Senate. We envision a heart-to-heart partnership between the local and national government,” he said.
Cayetano, who is gunning for a Senate comeback on a faith-based and values-oriented policy agenda, said the national government should leverage technologies that can help towns and cities deliver services more effectively.
Cayetano shared the experience of his home city, Taguig, which established an Integrated Survey System that allows City Hall to anticipate the residents’ needs.
The Taguig City Integrated Survey System has also resulted in a comprehensive database of residents’ information the city can use to efficiently deliver services funded by the national government, such as during the distribution of cash aid and welfare benefits during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Cayetano said local governments can develop similar databases and link their residents’ information with their national identification cards.
He said these ideas for local governments are simply policies that have worked in other cities and countries, and that local executives need only to adapt these policies to their areas’ specific needs.
“Ang question lang, how do we share it with each other, how do we share our burden para one day, y’ung sinasabing niyong ‘sana all’, mangyari talaga sa ating lahat,” Cayetano said.
“Makikita natin mga kababayan, hindi pera ang issue, minsan ang creativity lang,” he added.
(The only question is how do we share it with each other, how do we share our burden so that one day, the things we aspire for would really become reality for all of us. As you can see, money isn’t the issue, sometimes it’s just a matter of creativity.)