MANILA - Malacañang on Wednesday stressed that the proposed shift to federalism would not adversely affect the economy, after the country’s socioeconomic planning secretary warned about its impact on the country’s finances.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the Palace has already discussed with Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia his concerns about the proposed shift to federalism.
“The shift to federalism, we reiterate, would have no adverse effect on the Philippine economy. Our budget would remain the same, as identified national projects would be devolved and transferred to the internal revenue allotment (IRA) of local government units,” Roque said in a statement.
“These projects include maintenance of barangay roads and bridges, water supply services, barangay health centers and daycare centers, solid waste disposal system of municipalities, among others.”
Speaking to One News Channel, Pernia cautioned about the effects of a shift to federalism to the regions that are not prepared for the transition.
He also warned of the possible damage the shift to federalism could inflict on the country’s fiscal position.
President Rodrigo Duterte has already approved the draft federal charter made by his consultative Committee. Congress will still study the proposal.
A recent Pulse Asia survey showed 2 in 3 Filipinos are against changing the 1987 Constitution at this time and a majority oppose a shift to federalism.
Critics have accused the administration of railroading charter change in a bid to prolong the ruling party’s grip to power.
House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez has also proposed postponing next year’s mid-term elections to pave the way for a plebiscite on the charter change.
Duterte has repeatedly promised that he will not use charter change to stay in power beyond his term in 2022. He asked the consultative committee tasked to propose amendments to the 1987 Constitution to bar him from running again and allow the election of a transition president upon the ratification of the amended charter.
Meanwhile, opposition figures have also warned of the significant costs that changing the Constitution could entail.
In a Senate hearing on Tuesday, Dr. Rosario Manasan of the Philippine Institute of Development Studies said the creation of a federal government will cost about P55 billion.