Duterte's Speaker bet prefers faster mode to federalism

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 16 2016 09:50 PM

Incoming Davao del Norte Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez

MANILA - Presidential frontrunner Rodrigo Duterte's bet for the speakership of the 17th Congress on Monday said a shift to the federal form of government will lead to streamlining of the government bureaucracy.

However, incoming Davao del Norte Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez declined to go into details, as this will be left to the body that will frame the Constitution.

He only said that the country will be reorganized along the lines of regions as states.

"I think depende na yan sa gagawa ng draft ng bagong Constitution pero sa tingin ko naman ay mai-streamline iyung bureaucracy," he said.

Asked if this will mean an abolition of the provincial governorships, Alvarez said it will depend on the results of expected debates on the issue.

He said this may be the key to a lasting peace in Mindanao.

Alvarez doesn't see any problems getting public support for a federal form of government because Duterte advocated for it during his presidential campaign.

"Mahigit isang taon siyang umikot at ginawa natin itong consultation with the people sa buong Pilipinas, iba't ibang lalawigan at inintroduce namin itong concept ng federalism at in fact bago pa mag-assume officially iyung ating bagong Pangulo ay pinag-uusapan na nga natin ngayon at iyon ay napakagandang senyales at magiging successful iyung ating advocacy on federalism," he said.

Previous attempts on amending the charter have been marred by accusations of the incumbent seeking to perpetuate themselves in power by removing term limits.

Alvarez also did not specify what mode the amendments will be pursued—a constitutional convention, a constituent assembly of the House and the Senate, or through people's initiative.

"Depende, saan tayo makakatipid at pinakamabilis na paraan para ma-revise natin ang ating Constitution, he said. "Pag mayroon nang final draft, isu-submit naman ito for ratification ng ating mamayan."

Alvarez added that in a federal set-up, local governments will have more control.

He also mentioned the United States and Malaysia as examples of federated countries.

He criticized the current unitary system of government. "Iyung kasalukuyan natin systema ng gobyerno, unitary form of government which is very much centralized. Lahat ng income ng mga probinsiya, kailangan ipadala sa national government."

"Kung titignan natin, this is dictatorship in the guise of democracy kasi yung central government ang nagsasabi or ang may power para doon sa success at failure ng isang region o ng isang probinsiya," he said.

"Sa ganitong sistema, kapag hindi ka malakas doon sa central government or doon sa leadership or doon sa administration eh wala talaga mangyayari sa iyo atsaka iyung mga local government na ayaw mag toe the line sa administration, pwedeng ma-hostage sa ganitong sistema."

Buhay party-list Rep. Lito Atienza said he can support the proposal. "We can be united on that. Sa tingin namin, makakabuti iyan sa development ng ekonomiya ng bansa given that regions (will have) more autonomy to plan their own development and mind their own business."

REINFORCES POLITICAL DYNASTIES

UP political science professor Jean Franco, however, expressed concerns that a shift to the federal form of government will just reinforce the political dynasty system in parts of the country, even as she recognized its good side.

"The administration should be very clear on the goals of federalism like is it merely to pursue the peace process in Mindanao or it also because we want the change in government to maximize the current growth that we are experiencing and to finally resolve poverty?"

Franco added that the reform may take effect after Duterte is no longer in office or in 2022.