Eastern Visayas leaders upbeat on federalism drive

THE National Government’s efforts to educate the public about federalism continue to gain support in Eastern Visayas.

“This is very favorable to Region 8 (Eastern Visayas), as we are considered one of the poorest regions in the country. I think our region will be more developed through a federal state,” said Nacional Mercado, mayor of Maasin City, the birthplace of President Rodrigo Duterte.

Mercado, the regional chairman of Leagues of Cities in the Philippines (LCP) and a member of the national executive board representing Eastern Visayas, said federalism will pave the way for the “decentralization” of the government.

“Local government units will get more share from national taxes especially that we are Internal Revenue Allotment-dependent. LGUs will be given more power over local generated resources,” he added.

The mayor, however, said that up to now, everything remains a proposal or a draft.

“There is no final version yet,” Mercado told Sunstar Philippines in an interview.

Rene Leria, mayor of Mac Arthur in Leyte, also said the proposed shift to federalism will have an impact to the bureaucracy, particularly on finding sources for funds at the local level.

“By allowing regional self-determination, federalism will provide a leveled playing field for the economic and political stakeholders in the regional countryside, effectively giving to the majority of our population the right and the capacity to harness our local resources, to shape our local economy according to local needs and priorities and to institute a government that represents our collective needs and aspirations,” said Philip Jude Acidre of Tingog Sinirangan party-list in Eastern Visayas on Wednesday, September 12.

As a supporter of regional development, Acidre believed that federalism “will bring government closer to the people and make government services more responsive to their needs.”

“In other words, a federal setup makes it clear that the people are not only the direct beneficiaries but enablers of the government,” he added.

According to Acidre, the way the people have been governed since the birth of the Philippines as a nation “apparently has forced us into a being a homogenous whole, while what we need is a government that can shape this multiplicity into a cooperative whole.”

Yet, Acidre maintained that the reality about the Philippines is that it has always been a nation of diverse ethnicities, religions, cultures, and languages.

This is a fact that has resulted in a multiplicity of aspirations, ideologies, and values, the Tingog Sinirangan leader said.

“Our diversity is one of our nation’s key strengths,” he added.

As critics to the government said that the federalism campaign is now dead or being abandoned by its proponents, Acidre said failure to adopt federalism “is to allow the political and economic elite to control our political system to serve their own interests, at the detriment of those at our nation’s geographical, political, economic and social margins.”

Earlier, Malacañang issued a statement, saying Duterte has remained “fully committed" on his campaign promise on shift to a federal form of government. (SunStar Philippines)


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