ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Jan. 26, 2008) - Local Mayor Celso Lobregat said any cut by Manila in the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) will have a big effect on the government's delivery of basic services and implementation of infrastructure projects in Zamboanga City.
Manila announced that it would cut by P115 million the IRA share of Zamboanga City and other cities to provide funding to 16 municipalities which have been converted to cities.
The 16 municipalities converted into cities are Batac (Ilocos Norte); Tayabas (Quezon); Catar (Cebu); Bogo (Cebu); Naga (Cebu); Borongan (Eastern Samar); Baybay (Leyte); Catbalogan (Western Samar); Lamitan (Basilan); El Salvador (Misamis); Mati (Davao); Cabadbaran (Agusan Norte); Boyugon (Agusan Sur); Tandag (Surigao Sur); Gijolngan (Negros Oriental) and Tabuc (Kalinga).
The IRA is a local government’s share of revenues from the national government. It is largely based on land area and population, but local governments also derive revenues from local sources. Typically, the IRA for municipalities accounts for 90% of total revenues, but cities have more sources of local revenues.
Lobregat said Zamboanga will join the League of Cities in protesting the conversion of 16 municipalities which did not meet the income requirements and the consequent IRA reduction effective this year.
On Monday, city officials and employees will wear black armbands. The Philippine flag will also be flown in half mast as a sign of protest. Mayors of 119 other cities will replicate the move in their areas during the flag raising ceremony.
"The impending decrease by P115 million in the IRA share of the city this year due to the conversion of 16 municipalities into cities will greatly affect the delivery of services including the implementation of infrastructure projects," Lobregat said in a statement sent to the Mindanao Examiner.
The League of Cities, the alliance of the 120 existing cities in the country declared its protest against the conversion of the municipalities sans the requirements as mandated in the Local Government Code of 1991.
According to the League of Cities, the law requires “among others a P100 million locally generated income in order to be a city but the 13th Congress in 2007 enacted city hood laws which exempted 16 cities from this requirement”.
“We are not against the conversion of municipalities as long as they meet the requirements”, Mayor Lobregat said.
Zamboanga City is the third hardest hit by the IRA reduction at P114.971 million. Supposedly, the city would receive P1.166 billion in IRA share this year but this was reduced to P1.051 billion after the conversion of the 16 municipalities.
As compared to the 2007 figure of P1.015 billion, Zamboanga City’s IRA increase was supposed to be P150.8 million but after the conversion, the increase became P35.87 million or a difference (in increase) of P114.97 million.
The League of Cities said the 2008 IRA share of the 120 existing cities is reduced from P14.3 percent to only P4.7 percent or a loss of P4 billion.
Davao City is number one in the list with a potential loss of P194 million; second is Puerto Princesa with a loss of P144.4 million. Santiago City is 4th with a loss of P81.8 million; 5th is Iligan City with a loss of P68.8 million; 6th is Butuan City with a loss of P68.1 million and 7th is Calbayog with a loss of P65.8 million.
Worst, it said, House Bill 24 which seeks to convert all capital towns of province into cities and exempting them from income requirements, has been passed at the committee level in Congress that will in effect result to an additional 27 new cities.
The League of Cities earlier called for a moratorium on the creation of new cities until a more in-depth study “is undertaken for a more rational basis for city hood”. (With a report from Sheila Covarrubias)