Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Newsbreak's anti-Arroyo slant

For the second time now, Newsbreak has written an article blaming the President for the creation of new local government units. Last August, Newsbreak wrote that Arroyo's administration "is guilty of making it more difficult for [cities] to make ends meet." According to Newsbreak, "MalacaƱang is perceived to be encouraging the practice" of creating more local governments and that "[t]he President has not discouraged her allies in the legislature from creating new local entities." Newsbreak added that "local government leagues have lobbied for an end to it—to no avail."

In an earlier post I ridiculed this assessment by pointing out that the creation of new cities became a trend long before Arroyo assumed power. The rush to "cityhood" was triggered by a badly written provision in the local government code that provides cities with a larger share of the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA). This share allowed Local Government Units to meet the financial requirements to become a city and then get an even bigger share of the IRA.

Now, Newsbreak is blaming the President again in a piece entitled "As year ends, GMA creates more LGUSs" . In what can only be described as bad journalism, Jesus Llanto writes that "the government created new local government units (LGUs), reinforcing its record as the administration that has formed the most number of LGUs."

Yet there is nothing in the article that shows how the President is responsible for making these LGUs. The only act the President performed, according to this article, is the conversion of two component cities into highly urbanized cities (HUCs). This is the conversion, not creation of local government units. The President has the duty to declare a city as highly urbanized after the city meets certain requirements (Sections 452 and 453 of the Local Government Code). This is a duty on the part of the President and she exercises no discretion on this matter. Yet somehow, Newsbreak has managed to conclude that President Arroyo is behind the conversions.

As my earlier posts will show, I am clearly not a fan of the President. However, I cannot see why we have to blame everything on her even when the issue is clearly is beyond her control. We give Arroyo too much credit by suggesting that Congress follows her every whim especially when it concerns the creation of local government units. On issues such as this Newsbreak should examine Congress instead.

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