MANILA—The proposed federalism model that may be adopted by the government will be customized to be “uniquely Filipino,” Senate Pres. Aquilino Pimentel III said Thursday.
Pimentel, president of the administration party Partido Demokratiko Pilipino Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) made this assurance anew noting that it draws lessons from other countries that are customized to the Philippines’ needs.
He said that the PDP Laban studied 25 years of devolution under the Local Government Code, 20 years of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao and picked on the experiences of the United States, Germany, France, Russia, China, India, Indonesia, Brazil, Australia, Canada, Argentina, Malaysia, Japan, Africa, and many others.
Moreover, the foundational ideas of the model have been provided by by party founder, former Senate President Aquilino Pimentel Jr., and party chairman Pres. Rodrigo Duterte himself.
“What we propose is a model that draws lessons from these countries and customized to our needs and circumstances. A uniquely Filipino federalism model,” Pimentel said in a statement.
He said that the model will have two constitutionally established orders of government — federal government and the regional governments that would have some genuine autonomy from each other. However, each level of government is primarily accountable to its respective electorate.
“They have some genuine autonomy but not independence,” the senate president said noting that there would still be one constitution, flag, national anthem, foreign policy, armed forces, national police force, public education system, central bank and monetary system.
He further explained that each level of government in the model would have a particular jurisdiction — areas of public policy in which it alone has the final authority, unless it decides to share this jurisdiction with the other.
Economically, politically effective
Pimentel said that the model is also meant to create a more economically and politically effective administrative structure based on eleven regions, each with its own regional governments.
These are the regional governments of Northern Luzon (Regions 1, 2 and CAR), Metro Manila (National Capital Region), Southern Tagalog (Region 4-A), Bicol (Region 5), Mindoro-Romblon-Marinduque (Region 4-B), Western Visayas (Region 6), Central Eastern Visayas (Regions 7 and 8), Northern Mindanao (Regions 9, 10 and CARAGA), Southern Mindanao (Region 11 and 12) and the Bangsa Moro (ARMM).
The regional governments will be headed by a regional governor directly elected by the people in the region. He will have powers of supervision over provincial, city, and municipal executives.
In the division of powers, matters that concern the entire nation belong to the federal government while basic services to the people would be handled by the regional governments.
The senate president said that if the matter is a basic service then it should be a “shared power” between the federal and regional levels.
He further said that all residual or unclassified powers will be retained by the federal government but may also be delegated to the regional governments.
“We will pursue the principle that the budget will follow the division of powers,” said Pimentel, pointing out that at present 83 percent of the total government expenditures are controlled by the national government and only 17 percent by the local governments.
He pointed out that this will change in favor of the regional governments since 60 percent would be controlled by the regional governments and only 40 percent by the federal government.