detail - Auslandsbüro Philippinen
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Former Senate President and current Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. was the event’s keynote speaker discussing “Federalizing the Philippines: The Final Solution within Reason,” in which he presented his draft resolution calling for Charter Change towards the adoption of a federalist form of government, which he himself filed at the Senate on the same day on April 23, 2008.
He held his speech during the opening of the workshop entitled, “Way Forward for Decentralization and Federalism in the Philippines” at the Manila Southwoods in Carmona, Cavite. The workshop was organized by the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung and the University of the Philippines – National College of Public Administration and Governance’s (NCPAG) Center for Local and Regional Governance (CLRG). The workshop brought together members from the federal movement, decentralization advocates and advocates of the peace process to discuss matters pertaining to autonomy, decentralization and federalism.
Putting emphasis on the title of his address, Pimentel tackled the origins of the proposed federal system which dates back in 1982 in the establishment of the PDP Laban party, which aimed to provide an alternative course for the country as the political chaos and instability of the Marcos dictatorship reigned.
He explained that due to the concentration of power and the threat of bloodshed to overthrow the dictatorship, a solution of dispersing power surfaced and this could only be actualized if the Philippines is transformed into a Federal Republic.
Pimentel then shifted his attention to the current form of his federal advocacy – a 63-page joint resolution, he co-wrote with Senators Edgardo Angara, Juan Ponce Enrile, Gregorio Honasan and Panfilo Lacson. This proposal requires what the Senator termed as “invasive surgery” as it needs to revise 14 of the 18 Articles of the Constitution to give way to 11 Federal States and a single federal administrative region from the country’s current subdivisions.
He then pinpointed that a recommendation of establishing states from bigger political territories is essential in the proposal rather than creating states from smaller provinces.
Pimentel then went on detailing the array of changes that will be necessitated by the adoption of a federal system. Among them include, the definition of National Territory to include the Scarborough Shoals under the Federal State of Central Luzon and the Kalayaan Islands under Minprom; the dispersal of the seats of power of the branches of government where the Executive department shall be situated in the Administrative Region of Metro Manila, the legislative on the Federal State of Central Visayas and the Judicial Department in the Federal State of Northern Mindanao.
Other features of the proposed system were detailed by Pimentel as the sharing of legislative powers between the Federal Republic and the states; increase in shares of revenue allocation to Local Government Units (LGU) and the implementation of the Equalization Fund to aid States lacking in resources.
Wrapping up his talk, Pimentel outlined the two accomplishments sought for by a federal system that is the rapid development of the country due to the unleashing of competitive forces and the dissipation of rebellion in the country in Mindanao. From this, he stressed that adoption of such system is both a political and economic move.
Among those present and part of the conference was the government group who worked on E.O. 669, under the leadership of the DILG: Usec. Hezel Gacutan, Usec. Austere Panadero, Asec. Angel Saldivar, and Usec. Marcelina Bacani.
Apart from Pimentel’s discussion, other talks were conducted including those by Mr. Lito Lorenzana, Secretary General Advocacy Commission and Consultative Commission; Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Undersecretary Austere Panadero and Assistant Director General Marcelina Bacani of the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) and DTI-ARMM Secretary Ishak Mastura.