MANILA - House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez on Thursday warned that local politicians who would not support the administration will receive "zero budget."
"Siyempre, 'yung ibang probinsiya, ayaw nilang makisama. O 'di zero budget," Alvarez said in a speech in Pototan, Iloilo.
(Of course, other provinces don't want to support. If that's the case, then [they get] zero budget.)
"Ako naman hindi namimilit eh. Kung ayaw niyong sumama, okay, ginagalang ko 'yung karapatan niyo. Pero ang sabi ko nga, igalang niyo rin 'yung karapatan ko para ma-zero kayo sa budget. Di ba? O kaniya-kaniyang karapatan lang 'yan eh," he said, addressing new members of the ruling Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban).
(I'm not forcing anyone. If you don't want to join, okay, I'll respect your right. But you also have to respect my right to give you a zero budget. We have our own respective rights.)
Alvarez said he could not give equal treatment to leaders who would support the administration and those who would not.
"Ay alangan nga namang kayo sumama, 'yung leaders nila ayaw sumama, alangan namang pantay? Ano 'yung sasabihin nung mga kasama ko? 'Eh pareho lang pala kung sasama tayo o opposition.' Pareho lang pala. Hindi patas 'yan," he said.
(It cannot be the case that you joined our cause but their leaders did not, it cannot be fair treatment. What will my colleagues say? 'It would just be the same if we join or oppose.' It's just the same. That's not fair.)
He also urged the party's new members to support the push for federalism, saying the unitary form of government has stunted growth in the provinces.
"Hanggang ngayon, ayaw nila na palitan itong sistema na ito dahil hanggang ngayon, ang gusto nila, kontrolin ang mga probinsiya, ang mga regions. Ang gusto ng mga leaders sa Manila, sila ang magsasabi kung uunlad tayo o hindi," Alvarez said.
(Until now, they don't want to change the system because they want to control the provinces, the regions. What the leaders in Manila want is for them to be the one to say whether we progress or not).
He said centralized governance also restricted the flow of funding to the countryside.
"Kaya hanggang ngayon hindi tayo makaahon sa probinsiya. Hanggang ngayon, 'yung opportunities dito sa mga probinsiya limited masyado. Hanggang ngayon, 'yung mga probinsiyano na gustong umasenso o magbago 'yung buhay ay pumupunta sa Manila at doon nakikipagsapalaran," he said.
(That's why until now, we are not able to progress in the province. Until now, the opportunities in the provinces are too limited. Until now, those from the provinces who want to improve or change their lives go to Manila).
He said the federal form of government would allow provinces to manage their own finances: "'Yung kikitain natin sa probinsiya, maiiwan sa probinsiya... Magbibigay na lang tayo ng kontribusyon natin doon sa national government."
(What we earn in the provinces will stay in the provinces. We will just give a contribution to the national government.)
"Kaya, ako po ay nakikiusap sa inyo. Tulungan po natin ang ating Pangulo para baguhin ang Saligang Batas ng Pilipinas dahil ito po ay para sa kabutihan nating lahat at hindi lang po sa central government," he said.
(That's why I appeal to you. Help our President amend the Constitution because this is for the good of all and not just the central government).
Alvarez's statements came just days after the House hastily adopted a resolution to convene as a constituent assembly that will draft a new charter.
Senators and former chief justices criticized the move as a form of "railroading" as the resolution was adopted without going through debates at the plenary.
Amending the charter paves the way for the shift from a unitary to a federal form of government which President Rodrigo Duterte and his allies have been espousing, saying this would better promote development in rural areas.