66 senators under ex-Sen. Pimentel's federalism proposal

Christian V. Esguerra, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 05 2016 07:34 PM | Updated as of Aug 05 2016 09:46 PM

Former Senate President Aquilino "Nene" Pimentel Jr. presents his lecture on "Federalizing the Philippines" during the Senate's 3rd Centennial Lecture series held Sen. Recto Room. Joseph Vidal, Senate Prib

MANILA - The number of senators will nearly triple to 66 under a federal-presidential system proposed by former Senate President Aquilino "Nene" Pimentel Jr.

But Pimentel said a strict prohibition against political dynasties should be included in the new constitution to prevent them from taking advantage of more positions in the new government.

He said the provision should make it "clear that the son, daughter, husband, wife or whatever of a political figure cannot just inherit that power up to a certain degree."

Previous attempts to pass a law detailing the constitutional prohibition on political dynasties have failed in a Congress dominated by members coming from these families.

Pimentel, who has been pushing for a federal system for years, was confident that such a law would be enacted this time "under the firm guidance" of President Rodrigo Duterte, who enjoys a 91-percent trust rating based on the latest Pulse Asia survey.

Duterte's daughter Sara is the mayor of Davao City while his eldest son Paolo is the vice mayor.

"It is my belief that while the trust rating of the President is so high, he should take advantage of that for purposes of pushing for the adoption of a federal system of government," Pimentel told ABS-CBN News.

TANDEM VOTING

Pimentel said increasing the number of senators would ensure that "every nook and corner of this country will have a senator."

Six senators will be elected by each of the 11 federal states under Pimentel's proposal, which will keep the present number of district representatives.

"Will that be a little too much for a country? No, sir, because the 24 senators, senatorial limit was conceived at a time when the Philippines only had about 18 to 20 million people," he told ABS-CBN News.

Pimentel prefers to keep the constitutional limit of two six-year terms for senators. But he said the three-year term for members of the House of Representatives "might be too short" and could be increased to four years.

Under his proposal, the President and Vice President will be elected from the same ticket. But he said the present multi-party system could remain provided that parties would have clear platforms that differentiate them from others.

"If you have a requirement that they must be elected as a tandem, from the very start they have to work at things together and plan the same objectives for the development of the nation," he said.

EQUALIZATION FUND

Pimentel acknowledged concerns that some provinces or regions might not be ready to become federal states due to insufficient income and other resources.

Other states could pool their resources under an "equalization fund" to be handled by a commission to assist poorer areas such as Samar and Leyte, he said.

Metro Manila will be the capital of the federal state much like Washington DC is in the United States, based on Pimentel's proposal.

Luzon will have four states: Northern Luzon, Central Luzon, Bicol, and Southern Tagalog.

The Visayas will be composed of Eastern Visayas, Central Visayas, Western Visayas, and the "Mimparom" state of Oriental and Occidental Mindoro, Palawan, Romblon, and Masbate.

Three more states will comprise Mindanao: Northern Mindanao, Southern Mindanao, and the Bangsamoro.