By Filane Mikee Cervantes, November 22, 2021; Philippine News Agency

Manila – The House of Representatives on Monday approved on second reading a proposal mandating all local government units (LGUs) to earmark at least 15 percent of their annual national tax allotment share for health services.

Through voice voting, the chamber passed House Bill 10392, which seeks to amend Section 287 of the Local Government Code of 1991 to ensure the appropriation of at least 15 percent of the share of LGUs from all national taxes or revenues for health services.

The bill provides that copies of the health programs, including the provision of free medicines for indigent patients of local government units, shall be furnished to the Department of the Interior and Local Government and the Department of Health (DOH).

Health programs of LGUs shall be approved by the local health boards in accordance with the standards and criteria set by the DOH pursuant to pertinent provisions of Republic Act 11223, otherwise known as the Universal Health Care Act.

In sponsoring the bill, House health committee chair Angelina Tan said along with local development initiatives, the provision of quality, accessible, and relevant health services is enormously important, especially amid the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.

“Based on my initial talks with the Department of Health, the plan really is to push for the renationalization of the country’s healthcare system. But here comes the Mandanas-Garcia Ruling where the Supreme Court says that the ‘just share’ of local government units (LGUs) includes all national taxes and not just the national internal revenue taxes, but also customs duties and others. By virtue of this development, LGUs IRA (internal revenue allotment) are expected to increase starting next year,” Tan said.

Tan said the proposal is grounded on the fundamental policies outlined under Republic Act No. 11223 or the UHC law, which adopts an integrated and comprehensive approach to ensure that all Filipinos are health literate, provided with healthy living conditions, and protected from hazards and risks that could affect their health.

“The pandemic has underscored the important lesson that LGUs must be at the frontlines of UHC implementation inasmuch as the law ‘requires local leaders who recognize that health is not just one of their concerns but is in fact a strategic concern that has wide-reaching impact on stubborn societal issue’,” she said.

LGUs’ share in national taxes

The chamber also approved on second reading House Bill 10296, which proposes to intensify local government participation in national development by increasing the share of LGUs in national taxes.

The bill seeks to modify the current formulation of the internal revenue allotment to include all forms of national taxes in its computation.

The goal of the measure is to enable LGUs to provide better services and create more development projects.

It seeks to increase the local government’s share of national taxes from 40 percent to 50 percent based on the collection of the third fiscal year preceding the current fiscal year and thereafter.