By Louella Desiderio, September 7, 2022; The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — The devolution of functions of the executive branch to local government units (LGUs) is expected to enable the implementation of more local public-private partnership (PPP) projects, the PPP Center said.

In its annual report, the PPP Center said the Supreme Court’s Mandanas-Garcia ruling, along with Executive Order 138, “can be seen as an opportunity for more infrastructure and development projects to be undertaken via PPP at the local level.”

The Mandanas-Garcia ruling increases the share of LGUs in national taxes to implement devolved functions.

Under EO 138, which was issued following the Mandanas-Garcia ruling, full devolution of certain functions and services of national government agencies to LGUs should be done by 2024.

As part of its local strategy and in line with the devolution of functions to LGUs, the PPP Center is providing support to local governments in the implementation of PPP projects.

Last year, the PPP Center forged partnerships with the city governments of General Santos and Pasig, as well as the provincial governments of Sorsogon and Dinagat Islands to work together in project development activities and in the drafting or review of PPP ordinances.

These partnerships have resulted in two projects being part of those added to the PPP pipeline such as the General Santos sanitary landfill project and the Pasig City hemodialysis center.

Both projects are being implemented by the LGUs through their local PPP code.

Last year, the PPP Center also provided guidance in the finalization and approval of the project proposals for the Tuguegarao septage management project and the Iloilo City slaughterhouse project.

As the country faces fiscal constraints, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said the government is looking at utilizing PPPs to encourage investments in infrastructure particularly, in energy, transportation and logistics, water, and telecommunications.

As the government plans to work with the private sector through PPPs, President Marcos has directed the National Economic and Development Authority to review the amended implementing rules and regulations of the Build-Operate-Transfer law.

Business groups earlier raised concern over some provisions of the amended rules, saying the additions put more risks on the private sector.

A total of 183 projects amounting to at least P2.29 trillion were awarded under the PPP program as of the end of last year.