Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Benjamin Abalos, Jr. urged local chief executives (LCEs) to be innovative and consider partnering with the private sector to generate more funds for local projects.

"You must be creative in generating resources for your local government units (LGUs). There is always strategic planning. If you want to make a difference, maraming paraan," said Abalos during an orientation for newly elected officials (NEOs) last Thursday in Clark, Pampanga.

Taking off from his experience as a former mayor of Mandaluyong City, Abalos suggested the Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) initiative under the Private-Public Partnership (PPP) program that LGUs can use in resource generation.

The BOT is a project delivery mechanism in which government entities enter into a partnership with the private sector to implement projects.

Under BOT, he said he spearheaded the Mandaluyong Marketplace, which happens to be the first PPP project in the country involving the development, financing, and construction of public market, slaughterhouse, recreation, parking lots, and commercial complex.

Aside from utilizing the BOT, he also floated the idea of leasing ‘air rights’ – a best practice he likewise executed as an LCE of Mandaluyong City which has aided in augmenting the city’s local coffers. In the said innovation, the Mandaluyong City LGU allowed SM Megamall to construct a “connector building” between the mall’s two structures, provided that they pay the ‘air rights’ since the space between them is owned by Mandaluyong.

“As local chief executives of their respective LGUs, governors and mayors should always think outside the box and explore ways and means on how to get things done with the help of the private sector and other stakeholders for the benefit of their constituents.  We did this in Mandaluyong, and I hope this can also be done in other LGUs as well,” said Abalos.

According to the National Building Code of the Philippines, ‘air rights’ is the right to physically develop and subsequently benefit or profit from the continued use of the air space above the road right-of-way (RROW).

Broad taxing powers

The DILG Secretary also said local officials may also study the broad taxing powers given to LGUs by the Local Government Code of 1991 to increase their resource base.

He said LGUs should always look to the LGU Code, the 1987 Constitution, and Philippine laws in leading their jurisdictions. "Ito (LGU Code) ang lagi ninyong pagbabasehan sa lahat ng gagawin n’yo. Make sure na lahat ng pipirmahan at gagawin n’yo ay always in accordance with the law," said Abalos.

He highlighted the areas in which decentralization will affect local leadership and the powers granted to LGUs by the Code. "Devolution is important because it would give LGUs the power and funds needed to effectively solve the issues of your constituents," Abalos said.

The powers exercised by LGUs based on the LGU Code include police powers, eminent domain, and taxation.

Taxing powers, according to Abalos, is a tool that LGUs can also use to increase resources.

The DILG, in partnership with the Local Government Academy (LGA), conducted the said orientation for the
NEOs of Regions 3, 4A, and 4B.

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