The effect of the Mandanas-Garcia ruling: A Northern Samar case study

The Mandanas-Garcia Ruling mandates the expansion of the income base for the computation of the national tax allocation (NTA) for local government units (LGUs) to include not only internal revenue collections but also customs collections. This assures LGUs with an additional 24% revenue share, aside from the 13.9% increase due to the increase in internal revenue collections. The figures look attractive especially for NTA-dependent LGUs like the barangays.

But how does this really look like in its first year’s implementation? Will the amount be enough to cover the devolved functions and services that the barangays need to deliver by virtue of the Executive Order No. 138?

To answer these questions, I look into Northern Samar as a focus province. Northern Samar is one of the provinces in the Philippines known for reducing poverty incidence from 51.8% in 2015 to 25.1% in the first semester of 2021. As a result, the province was stricken off the list of the top 20 poorest provinces in the country.


Northern Samar has readily available barangay-level national tax allocations data for fiscal years 2021 and 2022, making a pre- and during-the Mandanas-Garcia Ruling comparison possible.

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The death of the BRT in Metro Manila?

One of the less consoling things I read lately is the cancellation of the World Bank loan for the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) System project. Don’t be confused: I am not for loans but I am for making public transport more efficient especially in these Carmageddon and wallet-emptying times.

The BRT system concept started in Latin America but was picked up and introduced in 1989 by investment banker and entrepreneur, Francis Yuseco, Jr. The concept was then sold to key government agencies during the Ramos and Estrada administrations. Despite several decades of discussions, the concept failed to materialize until the near-end of the PNOY Administration though not anymore with Yuseco but with other proponents. The Duterte Administration picked-up the discussions leading to the World Bank loan approval of $64 million (P3.5 billion) on March 16, 2017. But because there was tepid acceptance on the part of key Philippine government officials, the government was only able to sign the loan documents on February 14, 2019 and declared effective a month later.

Fast forward, the project did not move at all despite the approval of the Loans Agreement. With the Agreement’s closing date set at November 30, 2022, the Department of Finance was forced to request for a loan cancellation citing among others, the “weak capacity of the implementing agency. The excuse is, sad to note, ridiculous because technical capacities were included in the feasibility study — one of the bases why the loan was approved. And with the resources, it is impossible why the lead agency cannot hire experts.

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What happened to those auditioning for posts under the Marcos Administration?

Last March 24 or more than a month before the elections, Senator Aimee Marcos announced in the Padesal Forum that many are auditioning for a post in the administration of Bongbong Marcos. Weeks after the elections, the Marcos Jr., Administration is still on the process of forming its cabinet particularly those who will compose the Economic Team.

“Sasabihin ko ang totoo, ang dami-dami yatang nag-au-audition na maging Cabinet (I will tell the truth, there are so many auditioning to be a Cabinet member of Marcos Jr.),” Aimee Marcos said.

As of this writing, however, the only clear members of Marcos Jr.’s Cabinet are his spokesperson, Atty Vic Rodriguez as Cabinet Secretary, presumptive vice president Sara Duterte for Education, Ben Hur Abalos for the Interior and Local Government, and Boying Remulla for Department of Justice.

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CebuPac’s fake news peddling pilot forgets its market — the KakamPinks

Recently, a Cebu Pacific Air pilot, Captain Van Ranoa, made noise by branding as showbiz the picture of Vice President Leni Robredo ironing her daughter’s graduation toga. Ranoa then elaborated that Robredo caused the diversion of his flight because the Vice President asked her plane to be given priority in landing in the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

The post was circulated widely giving a new ammunition for pro-Marcos supporters and trolls. Fact checkers came into the scene and revealed that no such incident occurred. The closest recorded incident that led to a diversion of a couple of flights was on March 8, 2022 when a Cebu Pacific plane from Naga City veered off a runway of the NAIA prompting the runway’s closure for nearly two hours. But that was two months ago, not one month. Whether it was Ranoa who piloted that plane, nobody knows just yet.

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Did Marcos really win the elections?

Judging by the quick count and the reported extravagant celebration by the select elites, Bongbong Marcos (BBM) and Sara Duterte won the elections. However, with the trolls continually on the defensive mode while at the same time trying hard to pulverize Leni Robredo and the Kakampinks shows that even the supporters of the Reds are not convinced that they won already. Are they also questioning the election results?

The questions on BBM’s winning the presidential race are being highlighted by a number of groups – among them statisticians who saw a stable patterns of vote shares and vote margins. These include the alleged “68:32 Magic” where the share of BBM’s vote is pegged at 68% from 8:02 PM of May 9 to 1:32AM of May 10 while Leni’s vote-share is constant at 32% in the same period. (See Figure 1, The 68:32 Magic. Graphics not mine. CTTO.)

Figure 1. The 68:32 Magic. CTTO.
Continue reading “Did Marcos really win the elections?”