MANILA -- The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) firmly believes that federalism will adequately address the incidence of poverty and inequality in the country, contrary to claims from the opposition that federalism is not a guaranteed solution to help the poor.
“While we’re not discounting the good provisions in the 1987 Constitution, it had more than 30 years to fix the onset of poverty in the country but had failed to do so since it was implemented. That’s why we want to shift to a federal system of government,” DILG Assistant Secretary Jonathan E. Malaya said in a news release issued Thursday.
He added that although it is important to give in-depth research and careful study on the experiences of foreign countries in federalism, it is difficult to assume that what happens in other countries will also happen in the Philippines.
“It’s unlikely that we will have the exact same story of development as each country is a product of its own history and culture,” Malaya said.
Poverty linked to political dynasties
Meanwhile, during the DILG roadshow in Cagayan de Oro this week, Consultative Committee (ConCom) member Eddie Alih said the presence of political dynasties is associated with higher poverty and lower income among the locals.
He said the PHP3.5 trillion goes to the richest 50 families in the Philippines, which takes up a fourth of the country’s wealth.
“We have self-executory provisions in the new constitution that will limit the dominance of political families over certain areas,” Alih.
The proponents of federalism believe that the unitary system failed to address most of the nation’s problems in poverty incidence, corruption, illegal drugs and criminality, whereas the proposed federal constitution will give Filipinos demandable socioeconomic rights.
“Federalism will touch the lives of the people, especially the lost and the least,” because shifting to a federal setup will bring government social services closer to the poor,” Alih noted.
ConCom’s model decentralizes the central government and distributes the power and wealth to the regions.
The regional government will have exclusive powers over socioeconomic development in their areas, as well as funds to do so.
Malaya said all these advantages should be known to the people, because the opposition is trying to convince the public that federalism would be detrimental to the country.
The challenge, he said, remains for the administration to spread public awareness on federalism to gain traction during the plebiscite for federalism.
As the head of the government’s federalism advocacy, the DILG has been holding a series of federalism roadshows in the regions.
This week, the DILG is in Cagayan de Oro to relay to the Northern Mindanaoans the ways, in which federalism could help develop the entire region into the country’s growth center. (DILG PR)