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Leonardia exhorts PH city mayors to work closely in fight vs. Covid

Mayor Evelio Leonardia enjoined the country’s top city executives to work closely together to emerge triumphant in the continued battle against the COVID-19 pandemic at the League of Cities of the Philippines (LCP) hybrid 71st National Executive Board meeting Thursday, November 25.

Leonardia, the current national president of the 145-member LCP, also expressed optimism that local government units would be able to address concerns related to the global health crisis especially with their access to the Local Government Support Fund, the realignment of the LGU budget for COVID response and the provision of calamity assistance, credit financing and vaccine procurement.

Looking back, the mayor recounted, the LCP was able to conduct dialogs with several government agencies in 2020 in their efforts to generate support in the campaign against the dreaded virus.

National government institutions and LGUs overcame multi-faceted challenges and have remained consistent and resilient, and demonstrated innovativeness amid the crisis, he said.

“Indeed, we are slowly recovering and adapting to the better normal,” said Leonardia, who has served as LCP top executive from 2019 until 2022.

He is the first Bacolod mayor to be elected national president of the LCP.

This year, the LCP participated in the deliberations of the Committee on Devolution and championed the streamlining of additional devolved functions to be done in phases to further develop a concrete local Devolution Transition Plan.

The organization also pushed for the inclusion of 17 beneficiaries of the Growth Equity Fund (GEF) and participated in the creation of “Angat Lokal” to ensure proper messaging on the full devolution of functions and services from the national government down to the LGUs.

“With our active lobbying, P1.5 billion will be shared by these beneficiary-cities,” Leonardia said.

In the area of COVID-19 management, he acknowledged the cities’ enduring response to protect their constituents through vaccination roll-outs and financial assistance to marginalized sectors.

Our cities were among the most important partners of the national government in reaching almost 70 percent of the country’s population to ensure their protection, he said.

The LCP also created special committees that will oversee typhoon response, vaccine availment and devolution to “provide focused and timely responses considering the immediate policy shifts that have become the cornerstone of the country’s COVID response.”

The Department of Education, National Task Force Against COVID-19, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Commission on Audit, Department of l Interior and Local Government and Department of Budget and Management were some of the agencies which Leonardia said were instrumental in accelerating the cities’ rehabilitation and recovery efforts as well as the implementation of the Mandanas-Garcia ruling by the Supreme Court that resulted to increased IRA (internal revenue allocation) share of the LGUs.

“As the leaders of the LCP, we are responsible for setting the tone for our fellow member-cities and establishing strong linkages with the national government agencies, he told the NEB members.

“Let us continue to work together in elevating the critical role of cities in the recovery, rehabilitation, and development of our country,” Leonardia added.*

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