One of the fundamental state policies enshrined in the Constitution is the autonomy of local government units. (Const., Art. II, Sec. 25). In this regard, the Constitution mandated Congress to “enact a local government code which shall provide for a more responsive and accountable local government structure instituted through a system of decentralization with effective mechanisms of recall, initiative, and referendum, allocate among the different local government units their powers, responsibilities, and resources, and provide for the qualifications, election, appointment and removal, term, salaries, powers and functions and duties of local officials, and all other matters relating to the organization and operation of the local units.” (Const., art. X, sec. 1)
Pursuant to the mandate given by the Constitution, Congress enacted Republic Act No. 7160, otherwise known as the Local Government Code of 1991. The Code is divided into four books and covers the following:
(a) Book I – basic principles governing the attributes of local government units and the exercise of powers; intergovernmental relations as well as relations with people’s and nongovernmental organizations; the qualifications and election of elective officials and the process for disciplinary action and recall; the creation and composition of local school boards, local health boards, local development councils and local peace and order councils;
(b) Book II – local taxation and fiscal matters (which include the imposition of local business taxes as well as real property taxes);
(c) Book III – the creation, organization, and powers of local government units and the officials for each local government unit; and
(d) Book IV – penal provisions for violation of the Code, provisions for implementation and transitory provisions.
The Code replaced Batas Pambansa Blg. 337, which is the old local government code.