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With the recent discussions on the reduction of Internal Revenue Allotments of Local Government Units, the question of the just share of local governments in national revenue has come to the attention of the general public. The civil society advocates of local autonomy and participatory democracy welcomed the sudden public interest and the local executives' activism regarding this issue for it has brought the idea of local autonomy, and the attendant issue of fiscal autonomy, to the realm of public discourse. They thought that with the recent controversy, local government executives and civil society groups could come together to formulate a response to the question of fiscal autonomy and the IRA. In order to create a venue for discourse, the Local Governance Policy Forum sponsored an IRA consultation forum held at the Philippine Social Science Center on 18 February 2000.

The LGPF, being a network of non-governmental organizations, people's organizations and the academe, saw the IRA issue as

an opportunity to explain to the national government and the general populace the need for the automatic release of local government's just share of national revenue. On this automatic release, much of local autonomy, and the consequent democratization of governance in the Philippines, hinges. Thus, representatives from the basic sectors, the Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines and other leagues of local executives, and non-governmental organizations were gathered for this forum to dialogue on the IRA issue.

In the forum, papers from LGPF members were read to bring to deeper discourse the major issues surrounding the IRA controversy. These papers considered the legal and socio-political issues, as well as the issues of democratization and good-governance tied to the IRA. Given these issues, the forum hoped to bring forward to public discourse the civil society position regarding the IRA reduction-a position supportive of the demand of local executives for the IRA release but qualified by a call for responsible and developmental use of the IRA.

With these proceedings we present the papers read in that forum as well as some supplementary readings on this issue. We hope that they make intelligible to the general populace as well as the major players in local governance the issues involved. We also hope that these proceedings contribute to a deeper understanding of what the heart of the controversy is and what civil society and local government officials should be fighting for.

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