The full devolution, among 4th class municipalities like the local government of San Fernando, Camarines Sur, proves to be a difficult challenge. Devolving programs, basic services and facilities needs the augmentation of personnel at the local government. And this is one of the initial concerns of the Municipality of San Fernando, shares the Municipal Budget Officer of San Fernando, Mr. Alex Pana. When they started crafting their Devolution Transition Plan (DTP), or the required document of the Mandanas-Garcia Ruling outlining the functions and services devolved to the local government units (LGUs), there was not much information on the programs that would be fully devolved to the LGUs. Upon directly coordinating with agencies, they learned that the programs to be fully devolved to them demand additional personnel. To resolve this, San Fernando LGU temporarily hired job orders. Mr. Pana hopes that by 2024, they would be able to create permanent positions based on the roll-out of the Mandanas-Garcia Ruling.
The process of doing the DTP enabled the Municipality of San Fernando to identify what they can immediately do for the next year. Mr. Pana highlights that compared to crafting the Comprehensive Development Plan (CDP) which programs and outcomes are mostly long-term, the DTP enabled them to plan for actions that can be done as soon as they have the necessary resources.
A lot of people think that the Mandanas-Garcia Ruling is simply about the increase in the budget that LGUs can utilize for program delivery. But the Ruling’s implications have to be understood further especially by the LGU leaders and personnel themselves. Mr. Pana expresses that this has been one of their striking challenges: “Akala nila kapag maraming pera, puwede nang gumastos ng malaki. Challenge ang pag-eexplain ng consequences ng Mandanas-Garcia Ruling”. (They thought if we have more money, it means we can spend more. The challenge is explaining the consequences of the Mandanas-Garcia Ruling.)
Moving forward, the Municipality of San Fernando hopes that they would be able to thrive in the midst of the challenges posed by the implementation of the Mandanas-Garcia Ruling. Mr. Pana believes that through the utmost cooperation and collaboration of their Executive and Legislative branches, together with the Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), they would be able to accomplish effective full devolution.