The study determined the challenges in the implementation of Executive Order 138 otherwise known as the Full Devolution of Certain Function of the Executive Branch to the Local Government Unit. Profile of selected municipalities and awareness of local functionaries were examined to provide substantial support and overview to the determination of perplexities of the full devolution transition to municipal government units. The research utilized descriptive and exploratory research to determine the awareness of respondents along identified variables and elucidate the challenges of Local Government Units in the implementation of Executive Order 138. The respondents were Local Functionaries and DILG Field Officers of the 5th class municipalities in the province of Sorsogon, to wit: Barcelona, Prieto Diaz, and Santa Magdalena. The research methods used were Documentary Matrix, Survey, and Focus Group Discussion, and an Unstructured Interview. Further, data gathered were subjected for analysis and interpretation using appropriate measures.
The findings of the study revealed that the profile of the 5th Class Municipalities, in terms population profile, Prieto Diaz has higher human population than the rest. Barcelona, on the other hand, has more barangays to manage. Also, Barcelona has relatively higher number of accredited Civil Society Organizations pointing towards effective participation in local governance. People’s Law Enforcement Board and Project Monitoring Committee of the three municipalities were low-functional based on the 2021 DILG functionality audits. Also, LGUs has a relatively higher number of Contract of Service and Job Orders compared to permanent positions. In terms of social service profile, LGUs provides social services on demographic groups such as Persons with Disability (PWD), Women, and Family Clusters while prioritizing Children/Minor and Elderly/Senior Citizen. On infrastructure and utilities profile, majority infrastructure projects include: road networks, water systems, health centers and evacuation centers. Municipalities are equipped with telecommunication services and viable transportation networks. On economy and industry profile, Barcelona has the highest land area among the municipalities. Barcelona, Prieto Diaz, and Santa Magdalena, has almost identical economic resources but differs in their major industry products. The registered number of business establishments ranges from 154 to 455 in the 3rd Quarter of 2022. There is an abundance tourism sites in the selected municipalities. And finally, in terms of financial management profile, only Barcelona has an updated Local Revenue Code. There is a decrease in Internal Revenue Allotment in 2021 in all the LGUs. Also common in the three (3) municipalities, is the huge sum of asset invested on Infrastructure project.
Another particular finding of the study were the levels of awareness of LGUs in terms of Full Devolution, Functions to be devolved and Devolution Transition Plan. Full devolution garnered 2.25 score, for the Functions to be devolved, 2.34 score, and for Devolution Transition Plan was 2.16, all were reciprocated with an adjectival rating of partial awareness. The study also found out the seven (7) challenges in the implementation of E.O. 138, to wit: lack of manpower, poor preparation of devolution transition, insufficient fiscal resource, sustainability of the devolved functions, poor quality of public service, increased expectations and responsibilities, and widen gap in the local autonomy. These are the issues and concerns that lower class LGUs are perceivably facing in the implementation of the Full Devolution in the years to come.
The research concludes that 5th Class Municipal Local Government Units of Sorsogon are well-participated and supported by the citizens in their thriving thrust for social welfare development, infrastructure and utility advancement, economic growth and fiscal resource growth. There are still some gray areas in the level of awareness of the local functionaries towards the implementation of Full Devolution. Also, there are various challenges when it comes to the implementation of E.O. 138 in the Local Government Units. And there are different ways and strategies in dealing the challenges of Full Devolution such as policy brief recommendation.
The study recommends sustaining citizen engagement and enhancing people participation to continuously improve involvement of citizenry in public governance and expanded local autonomy; Prioritization of the boasting of Local Economic Enterprises will generate fiscal resource to sustain PPAs and devolved functions; Understanding comprehensively the basis, principles, approaches, policies, system and procedure of E.O. 138 will further improve strategies and plans in navigating the expanded local autonomy of the Local Government Units; and improvement and consideration of the Policy Brief on the enhancement of preparedness and readiness of LGUs to address challenges in the implementation of E.O. 138 or Full Devolution.