Gwen to gov’t agencies: No Capitol permission, no national projects

GOV. Gwendolyn Garcia has barred all national agencies and offices from planning or implementing projects in the Province of Cebu without first consulting the Provincial Government and obtaining approval from the local legislature.

“No national agency and/or office shall plan and implement any project within the territorial jurisdiction of the Province of Cebu without prior consultation from the Provincial Government of Cebu,” Garcia said in Memorandum 7-2023 issued Friday, March 17, 2023.

Her memorandum was addressed to the Department of Agriculture (DA), Department of Public Works and Highways, Department of Education, Department of Health, Department of Transportation, Department of Tourism, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Philippine National Police (PNP) and “all concerned.”

The latest memorandum comes on the same day that Garcia issued Memorandum 6-2023 to the DA, PNP and mayors formalizing her order earlier in the week to stop the pig cull in Cebu Province to deal with the threat of African swine fever (ASF), without prior approval from the Capitol.

The governor had clashed with the DA on its policy to cull all hogs within 500 meters of the infected site in Carcar City, saying it would just lead to a hike in prices of pork products as supplies drop, when she still had questions on whether the Carcar pigs that earlier tested positive really had ASF. Carcar officials had said the DA’s insistence on the cull led them to kill an initial 141 hogs.

Local Government Code

In her latest memorandum, Garcia cited Section 25(b) of Republic Act 7160, or the Local Government Code (LGC) of 1991, as requiring national agencies and offices with project implementation functions to “coordinate with and ensure the participation of local government units” in the planning and implementation of national projects.

She added that Section 2(c) of the LGC also requires national agencies and offices to consult with the local government units (LGUs) concerned before implementing any project or program.

Garcia also reminded national officials or employees stationed in or assigned to the province that Section 465 of the LGC, which lists the powers of governors, gives her the power to call upon them to advise her and make recommendations on matters affecting the province and coordinate with them in the formulation and implementation of plans, programs and projects.

The governor said the same section also empowers her to initiate administrative or judicial action against any national government official or employee “who may have committed an offense in the performance of his official duties while stationed in or assigned to the province.”

In her Memorandum 7-2023, Garcia also cited Section 26 of the LGC that requires not only national agencies but also government-owned or -controlled corporations that authorize or are involved in planning and implementing any project or program “that may cause pollution, climatic change, depletion of non-renewable resources, loss of cropland, rangeland, or forest cover and extinction of animal or plant species” to consult with the LGUs and other stakeholders concerned to explain the goals of such projects or programs, their environmental impact and the measures to be taken to prevent or minimize their adverse effects.

“No project or program shall be implemented by government authorities unless the consultations mentioned in Sections 2(c) and 26 hereof are complied with and prior approval of the sanggunian concerned is obtained,” Garcia quoted Section 27 of the LGC as stating.