Table Talk : Total independence of the local legislative from the executive PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 13 September 2012 13:50

BY Mike S Apostol

In almost all local government units, the independence of the local legislative body from the local executive branch is not observed. Many instances the local chief executive (mayor) dictates upon the local legislative body (council) and this destroys the system of a “check and balance” in the local government units. Worst, it erodes the very essence of democracy like the “independence of the three branches of government”. Except for the Judiciary in a local government unit that is directly under the judicial branch of government, the local executive and the local legislative in an LGU have their own code aside from the Constitution guaranteeing their independence.
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Name me a city, province, municipality or even a barangay, where the Chief Executive (mayor or governor) or a chairman in a barangay that does not interfere in the affairs of their legislative bodies and you will agree that it is like looking for a “pin in a haystack”. If there is one, then perhaps, that is a community where public service is truly “service” not politically motivated.
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We do not blame the chief executive in a local government unit for exercising his executive powers and prerogatives over the local legislative because from the very beginning the mayor always decides and the vice-mayor and his councilors can only suggest. Money matters and budgets which solely emanate from the legislative body is one power that the local legislative can wield as a leverage against the local executive. But again it cannot happen because the mayor can always dictate especially in a legislative unit that is dominated by the incumbent mayor’s candidate during the election. It is happening nationwide even in Congress that is dominated by the “President’s Men”. The President can always get what he wants.
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Good governance must start from the independence of the three government bodies. Without a serious “check and balance” in government, PNoy’s “daan matuwid” will remain crooked. Without true independence in the local government units, we will see more unfinished infrastructures, more marginal families living in misery and more officials getting richer every day.
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The Philippine Councilors League, a very powerful organization, can perhaps initiate some measures to ensure the independence of the local legislative bodies throughout the country as their way of assuring the nation of good legislation independently legislated for good governance. If they can unshackle their council from the grip of the chief executive then truly it is the best service to the nation.
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Scoop: The PCL now having their quarterly conference in the city must agree unanimously to adopt budgets for the Sectoral Representatives in the council. This is one constitutional mandate that is always set aside to the detriment of some unfortunate segment of our society. This is one good service that the PCL can give their constituents.