LGU: Local Government Units in the Philippines

Local Government Units (LGUs) are the backbone of local governance in the Philippines, playing a crucial role in the country’s administrative and developmental framework. Explore the essence of these political units, their legal foundation, the scope of their authority, the general programs they implement, the services they offer, and their significance in Filipino society. Read on. 

Credits: PNA

What are LGUs?

Local Government Units represent the operational arm of the government at the grassroots level in the Philippines. These entities are tasked with bringing the administration closer to the people by delivering essential public services and spearheading regional development initiatives. They are categorized into three main levels:

  • Provinces and Independent Cities: These are the largest units, endowed with broader powers and responsibilities. They manage a wide array of administrative, fiscal, and developmental functions.
  • Component Cities and Municipalities: Nested within provinces, these units handle localized services, playing a significant part in the governance and development of their areas.
  • Barangays: Representing the smallest administrative units, barangays focus on delivering basic community services such as sanitation, public order, and grassroots governance.

Additionally, the Philippines has autonomous regions like the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), which enjoy a higher degree of self-governance.

lgu logo
Credits: Wikimedia Commons

Legal Basis

The operation and existence of LGUs are grounded in the Local Government Code of 1991. This landmark legislation decentralized powers from the current administration, empowering them with autonomy to better serve the needs of their constituents. It outlines their structure, powers, and functions, aiming to enhance regional governance and community participation.

Scope and Coverage

The scope of LGUs extends across the entire nation, from the urban centers of independent cities to the rural reaches of barangays. This comprehensive coverage ensures that governance and public services are accessible even in the most remote areas. Each LGU, depending on its level, has a specific range of responsibilities, from provincial infrastructure projects to barangay-level community services.


LGUs in the Philippines are not under any department in the national government. This is due to the principle of decentralization, enshrined in the 1987 Philippine Constitution and further elaborated in the Local Government Code of 1991. Here’s why:

  1. Autonomy: LGUs are autonomous political units with their own governing bodies, legislative power (Sanggunian), and executive power (local chief executive like Mayor or Governor). They have specific powers and responsibilities defined by law, independent of national departments.
  2. Direct line to national government: LGUs report directly to the President through the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG). However, the DILG mainly supervises general areas like elections, administrative matters, and compliance with national laws. It doesn’t control their decision-making or specific functions.
  3. Separate budget: These political units have their own budget sourced from internal revenue, national tax allocations, and other authorized means. They manage their finances independently and are not directly reliant on departmental budgets.

While LGUs operate independently, they still coordinate with national agencies and departments on specific matters related to their functions. For example, an LGU building a road might collaborate with the Department of Public Works and Highways for technical assistance or funding.

In essence, these political units are not subordinate to any department. They function as autonomous units with direct connection to the administration, working collaboratively for national development while addressing community needs.

General Programs

LGUs implement a variety of programs aimed at improving the quality of life of their constituents. These include:

  • Health Services: Establishing clinics and health centers to provide medical care and health education.
  • Education Initiatives: Supporting local schools and scholarship programs for the youth.
  • Infrastructure Development: Building and maintaining roads, bridges, and public facilities.
  • Social Welfare: Offering aid and support to the vulnerable and marginalized sectors of the community.
  • Economic Development: Promoting domestic industries, agriculture, and tourism to boost the economy.

Services Offered

The services offered by LGUs are integral to the day-to-day life of Filipinos. These services range from public safety and environmental protection to regulatory functions and community development. By addressing the immediate needs of their communities, they ensure a responsive and responsible governance system.

Recent Updates

Finance Secretary Recto Leads Command Conference on Fiscal Performance and Strategic Plans

Finance Secretary Ralph G. Recto recently led a command conference with the Bureau of Local Government Finance (BLGF) and regional treasurers to discuss the fiscal performance of political units and the Bureau’s accomplishments and plans for 2024 and beyond. Secretary Recto emphasized the importance of enhancing revenue collection efficiency through data-sharing coordination with the BIR and expressed full support for the BLGF’s digitalization roadmap and strategies aimed at promoting LGU self-sustainability.


Suporta sa Cha-Cha sa 2024, hiling ng house speaker sa mga LGU | 24 Oras

House Speaker Martin Romualdez has requested the support of domestic officials regarding the proposed amendment to the Constitution. He emphasized that the proposal will not move forward without their backing.

Gov’t reviewing EO No. 138 for ‘full devolution’ of LGUs

President Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr. has announced that his administration is currently reviewing Executive Order No. 138, which outlines the guidelines for the full devolution of these political units. He stated that they have allocated a year to thoroughly study the provisions of EO No. 138.



Charter Change (Cha-Cha) refers to amending the 1987 Philippine Constitution. While its potential impacts are wide-ranging, here’s how it could be relevant to Local Government Units:

Potential Benefits:

  1. Strengthened autonomy: Cha-Cha could propose changes to grant LGUs more power and control over their affairs, potentially leading to:
  2. Faster decision-making: Less reliance on administration approvals could expedite projects.
  3. Better responsiveness: LGUs could tailor policies and programs to their specific needs and contexts.
  4. Enhanced development: Increased autonomy could attract investments and boost domestic economies.
  5. Improved fiscal resources: Cha-Cha might explore ways to:
    • Increase LGU share of national taxes: This could provide more funds for development initiatives.
    • Expand LGU borrowing capacity: Access to additional resources could finance larger infrastructure projects.

Potential Concerns:

  1. Unequal impact: Changes benefiting larger, wealthier LGUs might disadvantage smaller, resource-limited ones.
  2. Accountability risks: Increased autonomy without strong safeguards could lead to misuse of power or corruption.
  3. National unity concerns: Excessive decentralization could weaken national cohesion and coordinated development efforts.


LGUs are essential pillars of Philippine society, ensuring governance, development, and public services are within reach of every Filipino. Through their decentralized structure, they embody the principle of “local governance for local development,” allowing for tailored approaches to meet the unique needs of their communities. As the frontline agencies of the administration, they play a pivotal role in the nation’s journey towards inclusive growth and sustainable development. Their continued evolution and empowerment are vital for the Philippines to achieve its aspirations of a balanced and equitable progress.

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