LEGAZPI CITY -- After a two-day public consultation led by the Consultative Committee (ConCom) tasked to review the 1987 Constitution, more than 6,000 people from all over Bicol region pledged support on the proposals and the plan of the government to shift to federalism at the Albay Astrodome here Friday.

During the two-day consultation on July 5-6, the ConCom presented to the Bicolano people the draft proposed Constitution in a press conference attended by hundreds of media practitioners from Albay province; a town hall meeting with basic sectors from the Bicol community; and a consultation with representatives of local governments, non-government organizations, regional line agencies, and the private sector.

Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Assistant Secretary for Communication and Public Affairs Jonathan Malaya, in his speech, said the crowd in the roadshow showed the eagerness of the Bicolano people for change.

"I know that your presence here means that you love the Philippines, because your presence means you are concerned about the future of our country. If you don’t love the Philippines and you’re (not) concerned about the future, you will not come here anymore because for all you know everything will happen anyway. But because you are here you are willing to listen. That means you are dreaming of a better country, a better Philippines, a better Bicol region", Malaya said.

According to Malaya, federalism will give the Bicol region more power and autonomy to develop other areas apart from Legazpi and Naga, boosting centers of regional growth.

"Bicol is a promising region that boasts of rich natural resources and potential tourist areas. If properly developed, the whole region could skyrocket to progress," he said.

Malaya said the delays in implementing different projects and programs will be lessened if the regional government is given more power and budget, instead of waiting for the national government to act on matters concerning regional issues.

"Federalism will be a big potential and a big boost to our economy because we can now easily access our resources, such as geothermal, tourism, (the) agricultural aspect, gold and water that’s why I don't see anything wrong if we shift from unitary to (a) federal form of government", Sorsogon governor Bobet Lee Rodrigueza said in an interview with the Philippine News Agency.

Rodrigueza said with this type of government, the fund will be downloaded directly to the people, and services will be rendered immediately.

"In any government, the major problem is corruption. With federalism, we want that regions will have safeguards and (we want to) ensure (that) delivery of the basic services will be given down to the barangays", the governor added.

Second district of Albay Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda, for his part, said it is a big opportunity that everyone is united for a “greater purpose.”

"Piliin natin ang malapit na gobyerno (Choose the government that is close to the people), because the regional government will essentially articulate our dreams as a people, I'm sure, advance ako mag-isip (I could think of the future ahead). Polangui, Legazpi City will be more progressive, the second district of Albay will be more progressive as well as the third district. There will be less poor in Albay", Salceda said.

Joana Angela Prianes, a former beauty queen in Bicol and now a government employee, expressed support to federalism because “there would (now) be decentralization of power.”

“I like the thought that local government units can use own funds to focus on the development of their region instead of the bulk of the money going to national government,” she said in an interview.

"The LGUs know very well what is needed within their jurisdiction, so they can spend the money on programs and policies and no need to wait for the go signal of the national government. It will be fair for all the regions of the country when it comes to salary and (it) will help decongest Metro Manila" she added.

Ken Tabuena, a student, said federalization “would dramatically change the course of our nation success in the global market for it would actually distribute our resources equally and have a steady and statix form of governance.”

Meanwhile, DILG regional director Eloisa Pastor said the thousands who attended the roadshow represented the”interest” of the Bicolano for change. (PNA)