CATARMAN, North of Samar— President and standard-bearer of Partido Reporma Panfilo “Ping” Lacson and Senate president Vicente “Tito” Sotto III aim to remove this province from the list of “poorest provinces” by ensuring a good government once elected after the 2022 national elections.
Lacson said his flagship Village Empowerment Budget Reform Advocacy Program (BRAVE) could easily address northern Samar’s continued lack of funding for its own development projects at a press conference Sunday at the provincial capital here.
“Nalaman namin kay governor (Edwin Ongchuan) na 1.7 billion pesos lang pala ‘yung IRA (internal income allocation) dito, ano — very, very small, given that there are 24 municipalities and 569 barangays”, the longtime official said. after their dialogue with provincial and local authorities.
[We learned from Governor Edwin Ongchuan that the province only received P1.7 billion in IRA (Internal Revenue Allotment) – which is very, very small considering it has 24 municipalities and 569 barangays.]
IRA is the share of a local government unit’s revenue that comes from the national government. The provinces, independent cities, component cities, municipalities and barangays each receive a separate allocation.
This allocation is largely based on the type of government they are and a formula based on their area and population. Section 284 of the Philippine Local Government Code (Republic Act 7160) sets out the allocation formula.
“Ipinaliwanag namin ‘yung number one on the namin platform,’ yung main ng government program, ‘yung BRAVE — resource upload. “Ibababa’s small national budget and unity of local government aim to improve ‘young living conditions in northern Samar,’” Lacson added.
[We explained that our number one platform, our main program of government, is BRAVE – the downloading of resources. We will bring down the national budget to the local government units to improve the living conditions in Northern Samar.]
The Lacson-Sotto tandem sees BRAVE as the most effective solution to improving the lives of Filipinos living in the poorest areas of the country, including northern Samar.
Based on data released by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) last year, 27.4 percent of families in the province live in poverty, from a study starting in 2018.
That number had already improved from the poverty incidence of 51.5 percent in northern Samar in 2015, according to the PSA. But due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, it’s no surprise that number is rising again.
As part of BRAVE, Lacson said local governments could make progress in their regions as they would receive additional funding based on their needs and priorities.
The program would go a long way to help create more opportunities for the residents of northern Samar, which could then boost their local economy and finally allow them to leave the poor home, the former national police chief added.
Agriculture, fishing and tourism are the main sources of income in northern Samar, which has a population of 639,186 in the Eastern Visayas region, according to the 2020 PSA census.
Based on the National Competitiveness Council’s 2020 Cities and Municipalities Competitiveness Index, Northern Samar ranks 71st out of 81 provinces in the Philippines in terms of total annual income, which only reached 213.8 million pesos last year.