In the midst of the ongoing dispute between Makati and Taguig, affected residents are facing uncertainties over access to social services.
By RONJAY MENDIOLA and KATEBELLE LADLAD
MANILA –Barangay Comembo is the boundary of Pateros and Makati. It is formerly part of Makati’s second district, located at the southeast of Makati and at the same time, on the Northeastern part of Fort Bonifacio.
In 2020, its population was pegged at 15,805, accounting to 2.51 percent of Makati’s residents previously. It is one of the EMBO barangays, now under the jurisdiction of Taguig.
Among those residing here is 62-year-old Avelita Amandi. She has two children both studying in Makati and a husband who undergoes regular medical treatments for his high blood pressure.
Hence, she is a regular beneficiary of health and education services from Makati LGU.
Ideally, such basic social services should be afforded to the likes of Amandi regardless if she is a resident of Makati or Taguig or from wherever part of the country. However, due to the often low budget from the national government and the consequent devolution of health services, local governments are made to help augment if not fund social services due to their residents based on their respective capacity.
The legal conflict began in November 1993, when the local government of Taguig filed a petition before a Pasig City court to uphold two presidential orders that proclaimed certain villages to be part of their jurisdiction. These instructions were issued by former presidents Corazon Aquino in 1992 and Fidel Ramos in 1993.
Then, in a September 2022 ruling, the Supreme Court said that Taguig has control over the contended villages, including Bonifacio Global City, a high-end business estate, and the bordering “embo” barangays of Cembo, Comembo, East Rembo, Pembo, South Sembo, and West Rembo.
“It’s sad because that’s what we’re used to here at home and then suddenly we’ll be moved to Taguig,” said Amandi.
Fear of unsustainability
Among the concerns of Amandi is whether Taguig will continue the basic social services they are receiving from Makati’s local government.
Amandi is a retired secretary of a lawyer. Her husband is a retired messenger for a
steel company. Now, their only source of income is the P2,000 welfare pension they receive monthly.
Free health services are a great aid for senior citizens like them who do not have a daily budget for medical maintenance.
Despite the Universal Health Care Law (RA 11223), the poorest Filipinos still spent a total of P190.43 billion, or 17.5 percent of overall health spending in the country, according to a 2022 PSA data.
“We get a lot. First and foremost, practically all medicine is free. We did not even pay a single centavo for my husband’s nose surgery or my son’s appendix operation. Senior maintenance is also provided; there is no need to go to the pharmacy. When it comes to education, everything is free,” said Avelita.
According to the Makati Executive Budget 2023, the budget for the city’s social welfare department is P1.15 billion ($20.26 million) and the budget for the city’s health department is P2.07 billion ($36.46 million). This is on top of their national tax allotment, which, according to the Department of Budget and Management is at P1.67 billion ($29.42 million)
“If this is our situation, can you blame us for being concerned about the services we receive? If we save what we receive in Makati, how about when we are in Taguig?” she asked.
Health services should be afforded
As it stands, the Taguig local government unit committed to continue providing free social services to now former Makati residents, saying that they are “prepared to take on the responsibility of governing your communities with the same commitment and solicitude that it has done with its 28 barangays.”
“While there will be challenges, you can expect responsive public service emanating from our vision to bring about a transformative, lively, and caring city,” read a statement posted by the Taguig Public Information Office.
Taguig LGU received P2.25 billion from the DBM’s National Tax Allotment for LGUs for 2023.