Tell it to SunStar: Regionalization or federalization?

REGIONS are administrative divisions that serve primarily to organize the provinces of the country for administrative convenience. The regions themselves do not possess a separate local government with the exception of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao, which has an elected regional assembly and a governor.

A resolution authored by Reps. de Vera and Gonzales Jr. wants to divide the federal state into 18 regions including a Bangsamoro Region. Each region shall be led by a regional governor with law-making power vested in a regional assembly. The PDP-Laban Federalism Institute suggests the creation of 11 regional governments.

They propose a three-step process for the transition period:

“Step 1: Eighteen months from the ratification of the amendments to the 1987 Constitution a Regional and Local Government Code shall be enacted by parliament to replace the 1991 Local Government Code. … Once that code is passed the Regional Governments are deemed created.” But for many reasons they are only deemed created, but not really existing yet. Step 2 prepares the basic structures for their creation and functioning.

“Step 2: Regional Commissions composed of the incumbent governors and mayors of highly urbanized cities shall shall govern the regions. The Regional Commissions shall serve as the interim regional governments acting as a collegial body with both executive and legislative powers.”

My interim comment: Aguy, that makes pork-barrelling possible and corruption likely. It is a clear infraction to the democratic principle of separation of powers and also the Constitution. Who will check and balance them? The president, the parliament, the Ombudsman? That must be part of the Institute’s proposal.

“Step 3: Within 5-10 years from the establishment of the regional government, the regional commissions shall submit to Parliament for approval a proposed Regional Organic Act more responsive to the needs, culture and aspirations of the region. The Act shall define the basic structure of government for the region consisting of an Executive Department headed by a Chief Minister and a Regional Assembly composed of elected representatives from each province and city...The Chief Minister shall be elected by the Regional Assembly from among its members.”

This is very different from the French model where the 13 regions and all the smaller divisions serve only to execute the president’s policy down to the villages. France is highly centralized, Germany is federal. That is why Germany is strong and France is weak.

Now let us look forward to the draft charter that the Puno commission will submit in July this year. I expect a very detailed, self-contained entity of one founding. Therefore it will not be possible for Congress to pick some provisions of their liking and junk others. By doing so they would destroy the system. You cannot detach a cog-wheel from a clock and expect it will work. It will not. Mabuhay Pilipinas!--Erich Wannemacher, Lapu-Lapu City
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