Garcia defers implementation of ordinance requiring government agencies to coordinate with Capitol on projects’ implementation

CEBU Governor Gwendolyn Garcia has deferred the implementation of Provincial Ordinance 2023-02, while the consultation with all government entities for the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the said legislation is still ongoing.

Garcia met with the officials of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) for the third time on Monday, May 15, at the Capitol to clarify matters after Justice Secretary Jesus Remulla claimed in a written opinion that the Cebu Provincial Government was mistaken to believe that any national government agency must obtain its approval before implementing any programs or projects within its territorial jurisdiction.

Remulla argued that the approval of ordinance 2023-02 stemmed from the Capitol’s tension with the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) over the implementation of policies after the detection of the African swine fever (ASF) in Carcar City on March 1.

“But as I stated in that assembly of all the national government agencies and GOCCs as chief executive I shall defer implementing this ordinance until we shall have come up with a doable, understandable, sensible, logical implementing rules and regulations,” Garcia said in a media interview.

“These series of consultations begin this afternoon together with DPWH. We decided to start with the DPWH,” she added.

On April 26 and May 3, also met with the representatives of various national government agencies to discuss with them the guidelines under the ordinance.

“We always reach out so we may listen to them because, we have no exclusivity of knowledge much less experience in each of their respective fields and their inputs will be very very valuable in coming up with a thoroughly distilled consensus that would work for both our constituents and for the government agencies,” according to Garcia.

In Remulla’s six-page letter addressed to Presidential Management Staff Senior Undersecretary Elaine Masukat, the head of the Department of Justice (DOJ) said BAI does not need the approval of the provincial government in implementing its policy against the African Swine Fever (ASF).

Lawyer Rory Jon Sepulveda, Capitol legal consultant, however, said that the governor just wanted the national government agencies to coordinate with the province before implementing their project.

He asserted that the province was acting appropriately and added that the conflict between BAI and the Capitol had nothing to do with the ordinance.

He also said that the Capitol still abides by the unitary form of government and not the federal one.

“We are a subdivision of the national government. Our power is only those expressly delegated to us by the local government code. It’s a national delegation of authority,” Sepulveda stated.

However, the governor believes that Remulla would understand better if he learned the real motive of the Capitol, which is to bring the agencies together rather than to fight each other.

“I hope that with this ordinance we will come to realize there is no need to claim turfs, not my turf, your turf, it should be our turf working together in clearly defined mechanisms because after all we are all Filipinos, we are working for this country, that this country would be able to progress…And it all starts with the local government units,” Garcia stressed.

On April 4, the Cebu Provincial Board presided over by Vice Governor Hilario Davide III had unanimously approved on second and final readings Ordinance 2023-02 with penal clauses on the violations of certain provisions of Republic Act (RA) 7160 or the Local Government Code of 1991.

It orders all national government agencies and GOCCs to adhere to the Sections 2(c), 25(b), 26 and 27 of RA 7160 by coordinating, consulting, and involving the province of Cebu in the planning and implementation of its programs, projects, and policies.

Sections 2(c) of the RA 7160 requires all national agencies and offices to conduct periodic consultations with appropriate local government units before any project or program is implemented in their respective jurisdictions.

Section 25(b) ensures the participation of any local government units in the planning and implementation of any national projects.

The national agencies and GOCCs have to submit to the Provincial Board all documents pertaining to the projects, programs, and policies to open up a dialogue between the two parties.

Failure to do so carries a fine of P5,000 per violation or an imprisonment of not more than one year or both, without prejudice to the filing of an administrative charge for abuse of authority and violation of the ordinance. (ANV, TPT)