September 23, 2007
PIMENTEL'S NEW BOOK THE LOCAL
Senate Minority Leader Aquilino "Nene" Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) has come out with a second book on the Local Government Code, 16 years after the landmark legislation was enacted into law (Republic Act 7160).
In the new book, Pimentel tells how the Local Government Code has been wisely used by political leaders in transforming their backward LGUs into dynamic and prosperous communities. He expounds on the urgency of a second wave of reforms in the form of amendments to the Code to address problems and challenges in local governance that confront local executives.
The book, entitled "The Local Government Code Revisited 2007," was launched in simple ceremonies at the audio-visual theater, Dagot Hall of the Philippine Normal University in Manila on Sept. 21.
Pimentel, acknowledged as Father of Local Autonomy and principal author of the Code, said the new edition was published in response to requests that the book be republished with updated Supreme Court decisions on matters of local governance.
The Local Government Code, signed into law by President Corazon Aquino on October 10, 1991, is considered one of the most revolutionary pieces of legislations that Congress has passed because it radically transformed the very nature of the country's politically-administrative system.
"The Code has empowered the local government units all over the country by squarely placing upon them, as frontline institutions, the responsibility for developing their respective territories," Pimentel said.
The law uprooted decades of highly centralized decision-making that hindered and placed upon the local officials a major portion of the responsibility for modernization of the local communities.
Through the Code, government powers and functions have been decentralized and devolved to the LGUs, specially health, agriculture and social welfare.
"In the decentralized system, the power to govern is spread out and consequently, public service covers more comprehensive scope - the effect of which is that basic services are delivered to the people more efficiently and regularly. It is from this scenario that local development is expected to spring."
Under the Code, the LGUs now have a substantial share in the national wealth; moreover, they can raise their own funds even without prior approval of the national government.
"In sum, through the integration of local autonomy in our legal and political system, the passage of the Code may be likened to the splitting of the atom in that it unleashes the forces of development with such tremendous impact that not only the privileged, but the masses as well, may benefit from the fruits of modernization in this lifetime," Pimentel said.
At the launching rites, Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim described Pimentel's book as a "remarkable piece of scholarship that combines clear definition of concepts and arguments with critical ways of analyzing and evaluating what the law is."
"The author made it a point that he is guided by the latest Supreme Court's decisions, when he provides interpretations and annotations of the specific provisions of the Code. Much more than this, I found Nene's opinions based from his own experiences as mayor, secretary of local government, assemblyman and senator very convincing and persuasive." Lim said.
In his remarks, Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay said although much can be said about the book, he could only say one word about the author - a hero."
"And who doesn't want to read to book written by a hero? If a hero writes a book, his book goes with history. His book is treated with much respect the same way as the author. The book is a Bible in its own right like a gem, like a national treasure that deserves a special place in the heart of a patriot," Binay said.
Binay said the Local Government Code has given impetus to a new dynamism among local governments that is nothing short of revolutionary of innovation and initiatives emanating from local institutions.
"And considering our present political situation, the urgency of revisiting the provisions of the Code, if only to ensure real autonomy and insulate local governments from the manipulation of the national government, acquires great urgency," he said.
In emphasizing the need to revisit the Code, the Makati mayor said there are some provisions which still have to be realized in fact not just in the theory or in law.
Binay cited the need to increase the internal revenue allotment, its immediate release, and a greater devolution of more and more functions to local governments that can truly lead to higher levels of development of the country as a whole.
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