Monsod prefers change in LGU code over federalism

Trishia Billones, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 03 2016 10:22 PM

One of the framers of the 1987 Constitution is favoring the amendment to the Local Government Code as a means to the regional development promised by federalism.

Attorney Christian Monsod on Friday said the Constitution allows provinces to convene voluntarily and autonomously pull their resources and push for change in the Local Government Code on the equitable division of the internal revenue allotment (IRA).

"All you need to do is amend the Local Government Code, and say that the IRA, your internal revenue allotment, instead of 40:60, in favor of central, will be reversed. It will be 60:40, in favor of the LGUs," he said on Mornings@ANC.

He added, the local government code also allows the provinces to borrow funds from the national government, much like the promise of federal states being able to raise their own funds.

The Bangsamoro Basic Law, he cited, would allow the state to keep 70% of its resources, and Monsod said the Constitution allows for the provinces to petition to the Congress to create a law that would afford them the same autonomy.

"I think we can change the IRA very quickly by just changing the Local Government Code and you don’t have to wait two years and to put a federal system in place that will have a long transition period anyway," he said.

Monsod said the promised social change after the People Power Revolution ousting Ferdinand Marcos is embedded in the Constitution.

"The heart of 1987 Constitution is social justice and human development. So if you're talking about a revolution, and I think that is what people wanted in voting for President Duterte, the revolution the poor want is social justice not federalism," he said.

DANGERS OF FEDERALISM

While on the campaign trail, President-elect Rodrigo Duterte has said "nothing will appease the Muslims, the Moro people if we do not give them the BBL (Bangsamoro Basic Law)."

But recently, Duterte's anointed House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez has said they are putting the passage of BBL at the back burner and will prioritize the shift to federalism instead.

For Monsod, the incoming administration's first order of business should be to "clarify what exactly it wants to do and what’s the sequence and priorities are."

He also recommended reverting to Duterte's earlier statement of trying out federalism in Bangsamoro and seeing if it will be successful before applying the change.

"Let’s try it in Bangsamoro—where they have already said they are not going, they’re no longer aspiring for cessation; they want to remain within the national sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Philippines—and make that the template for the rest of the country," he said.

He emphasized this because he said, it will be difficult to revert back to a unitary system of government once the shift to federalism is completed.

Monsod also warned that the abrupt shift without the complete quelling of corruption and political dynasty will not work as effectively as proponents hope.

"When they talk about devolving power to the people with federalism, they assume that when you devolve power from central to local government, that local government will then devolve it to the people. My bet is that the clans, political clans and dynasties will hijack those powers and keep them to themselves," he said.

He is also wary of the unequal economic development because the starting local economic state is not equal among the regions.

He fears the richer regions will alienate the poorer regions and "be more selfish about their natural resources."

"They will charge the adjoining regions for using their water resources, for example. The distribution of rights and powers is going to be quite difficult," he said.

Monsod also pointed out that not all federal governments have successful economies like the United States and not all unitary governments have failed economies.

"There is no formula that says that this will be successful if we do this and then how do we reverse if we find out that we were wrong," he said.