MANILA, Philippines - The Duterte administration should study carefully proposals to shift to a federal form of government as some areas in the country might be left out of the development process, Vice President Leni Robredo said.
“Perhaps to many, federalism may be a plausible solution to our country’s problems. But what form? Which model? There seems to be confusion. But there is something more important to consider,” Robredo said in a speech before the Foundation for Economic Freedom in Makati City on Thursday.
Robredo noted a successful federal government is dependent on certain factors – local government units should have the capacity and competence to handle much authority and that systems of patronage do not dominate local politics.
“Practical experience tells us that we enjoy neither. Many of our LGUs are poorly positioned for greater responsibility. And patronage politics continues to hold sway, influencing the outcomes of elections, making public office the business of dynasties,” she said.
President Duter-te had asked Congress to fast-track moves to put in place a federal system of government in the country.
Duterte sees “federalism as a suitable and acceptable compromise that will solve the problems of Mindanao.”
But Robredo said federalism might be a “too drastic” remedy for this particular problem.
“Is federalism the only solution to the conflict in Mindanao? Is it the long-awaited cure for persistent oligarchies? Is it the only way to assure equal wealth-sharing among our provinces? At this point, I feel that there are more questions than answers,” Robredo said.
“If we look at the dependence or independence, economic dependence or independence of our provinces, I think of our regions … of the 17 regions, only two have internally generated incomes,” she pointed out.
Despite economic growth, Robredo said millions of Filipinos continued to languish in poverty.
“Growth has not been inclusive. But we cannot wait for the dividends of progress to trickle down to the poor. We need to act quickly, so we can arrest poverty before it is passed to another generation,” Robredo said.
“Unlike congressional hearings on the proposed constitutional assembly, the suffering of vulnerable Filipinos cannot wait to be solved,” she added.
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