Posts Tagged ‘federalism’

Philippines: Draft federal Constitution “ambiguous and unclear” — Huge negative economic consequence

August 10, 2018
DOF chief: Call to sack econ managers won’t enrich federalism discourse
Ian Nicolas Cigaral ( – August 10, 2018 – 11:10am

‘We never stated that we are against federalism’

MANILA, Philippines — Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III on Friday maintained that the draft federal Constitution crafted by a consultative committee, or Concom, has “ambiguous and unclear” provisions on revenue and spending assignment.

That was after a charter reviewer urged President Rodrigo Duterte to fire Dominguez and the government’s chief economist for warning against the potential fiscal risks of the proposed shift to federalism.

In hundreds of hours of speeches, Duterte has boldly declared the Philippines must overhaul the 1987 Constitution and shift to a federal system of government to address the country’s widening wealth gap and empower regional governments.

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The president last month approved the draft federal constitution. The members of the Concom, whom Duterte appointed, proposed that federated regions be given a share of not less than 50 percent of all national taxes.

But in a recent television interview, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia stressed that while federalism could unlock economic benefits, it could also spell disaster for some regions not prepared for such a transition and “wreak havoc” on the country’s balance sheet.

Meanwhile, Dominguez told lawmakers earlier this week that while the economic team has no official position yet regarding federalism, the revamp can end up to be a “fiscal nightmare” if not managed correctly.

“As we pointed out earlier, we never stated that we are against federalism. Rather, with respect to the fiscal provisions of the proposed Constitution, there are ambiguous provisions on revenue assignment and there are no provisions on expenditure assignment,” Dominguez said in a statement.

“There are, likewise, principles on revenue sharing that do not appear to be well studied,” he added.

Dominguez then responded to remarks made by committee member and San Beda Graduate School of Law Dean Father Ranhilio Aquino, who called on Duterte to sack him and Pernia for their criticisms on the draft federal charter.

“We respect the opinion of Father Aquino, but we believe that such attitude would not enrich the level of discourse on the proposed Constitution,” the finance chief said.

“It is our duty and responsibility to point these out and engage in a healthy, level-headed discussion, especially when the possible repercussions could result in dire, irreversible economic consequences,” he added.

Malacañang on Thursday said Duterte remains committed to the cause of federalism.

Last month, international debt watcher Moody’s Investors Service cautioned that federalism could present downside risks to the country’s institutional and fiscal profile.

Dominguez, meanwhile, said based on the fiscal provisions of the draft federal Constitution, the federal government would incur a deficit of 6.7 percent and may result to a credit rating downgrade for the Philippines, which currently enjoys an investment-grade rating.

A lower credit rating would lead to higher interest rates.

To avoid any negative economic consequence and maintain the current deficit target of 3 percent, Dominguez said “the Federal government will have to cut its expenditure program by P560 billion.”

“This means the national government may have to lay off 95 percent of its employees, or reduce the funds for the ‘Build Build Build’ program by 70 percent, or a combination of both,” he said.



Philippines: Cabinet officials who don’t agree with federalism could be fired — Freedom of expression does not apply to Cabinet officials

August 10, 2018
Fiscal risks of federal form of government discussed but may be shut down by Duterte government

( – August 9, 2018 – 9:28pm

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia and Finance Secretary Sonny Dominguez during a budget hearing for 2019 at Congress on July 31, 2018.

The STAR/Michael Varcas

MANILA, Philippines — A member of the Consultative Committee tasked to draft a new constitution called on President Rodrigo Duterte to fire Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III and Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia over negative statements about the proposed shift to federalism.

“[I]f [Duterte] favors federalism let him sack Dominguez and Pernia or command them to keep their traps shut. Freedom of expression does not apply to Cabinet officials in respect to policy,” Con-Com member and San Beda Graduate School of Law Dean Father Ranhilio Aquino said in a Facebook post on Thursday.

Aquino made the statement after the two economic managers raised concern over the potential fiscal risks that might accompany the proposed change in form of government.

Dominguez said he was left confused by the draft charter and would not vote in favor of its ratification. Pernia, on the other hand, said federalism could spell disaster for regions that are unprepared for such a transition and “wreak havoc” on the country’s balance sheet.

The Con-Com member also raised the question of whether Duterte himself still supports federalism given two of his Cabinet members’ vocal stance against it.

“The way things are going, Dominguez and Pernia may merely be paving the way for a subsequent Presidential announcement that ‘I have been advised by my economists that federalism is as bad for our national health as smoking is to a person,'” Aquino said.

“Enough of double-talk. If the President is now cool to federalism let him give the order to abandon the federalist ship. Then all of us fools who wrote the draft and defended it with all our might will know that we have been taken for a ride — for a very expensive ride — but we shall at least have the chance to abandon ship before it is scuttled!”

Malacañang, however, said on Thursday that Duterte remains committed to the cause of federalism.

“Ang unang mensaheng nakuha ko po kay presidente ay naninindigan pa rin sa pederalismo. Sinabi nga po niya sa akin na sa aking press briefing sabihin na talagang committed siya para isulong iyong pederalismo na sinangguni ng Consultative Committee,” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said in an interview over dzRH.



Philippine lawmakers say entertainment won’t work in the explanation of important issues such as federalism — Seem to scold Mocha

August 6, 2018

Antics and entertainment won’t work in the explanation of important issues such as federalism, senators said, as they hit Communication Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson for her video discussing the matter.



More senators have expressed disapproval Monday over the viral video clip of Uson and another blogger who danced a lewd jingle in their discussion of the proposed shift to a federal form of government.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III believes that federalism should not be taken lightly.

“You know me, I sometimes take some things lightly. Serious issues, high-falluting like that, can’t be taken jokingly or lightly. Perhaps if you are going to do it privately, it would be okay. But nothing is private in the internet, right? Nothing is private in the internet, therefore it could not add to the information campaign of the government,” Sotto told reporters when asked about the video.

“One thing is certain: theatrical techniques could not work for such an issue of federalism,” he added.

Sotto said federalism is not something to be joked about, admitting himself that he has yet to fully understand federalism despite studying for long hours the propositions for federalism, including the draft federal charter of the Consultative Committee (Con-Com).

In a separate text message, Sotto said Uson’s video was “not effective.” “That is not the way to disseminate information,” he noted.

While he refused to comment on Uson’s involvement in the administration’s information campaign for federalism, Sotto urged the Presidential Communications and Operations Office (PCOO) to hire more credible personalities to explain the subject.

“I suggest to the PCOO, if they are really interested in a full information dissemination drive, they should get personalities who are more academic, and they would know how to explain what federalism is all about. Because…it’s not that easy to understand, so it will not be easy to explain in one or two minutes. That is not the way to do,” he said.

Senate President Pro Tempore Recto took a swipe at the government communications official, who sarcastically described Uson as the “perfect endorser” for federalism.

“She’s the perfect endorser for federalism. She symbolizes those in favor of federalism,” Recto said in a text message.

Sen. Francis Escudero, meanwhile, took to Twitter his comment against Uson’s video.

“It is a desperate attempt to attract attention by intentionally offending our sense of propriety! It is downright vulgar and has no place in the public discourse on such an important issue as THEIR proposed shift to federalism & charter change!” he said.

For Sen. Panfilo Lacson, Uson aggravated the Senate’s supposed stand of the proposed charter change and federalism, saying it could be “thrown far away.”

“Without Mocha Uson, federalism is already dead and awaiting cremation at the Senate. With Mocha Uson, the ashes should be thrown far, far away from the Philippines’ 7,107 beautiful islands,” Lacson also tweeted.

Sen. Francis Pangilinan, for his part, called on PCOO Secretary Martin Andanar to explain on the “indecency and disrespect” committed by his men.

“Dapat magpaliwanag si Sec. Andanar sa mga kalaswaan at kababuyan na nangyayari sa kanyang tanggapan na ginagawa ng mga tauhan niya gamit ang pondo, oras, at kagamitan ng gobyerno,” he said.

With Uson’s new blunder, Sen. Grace Poe said the PCOO, in addition, should also justify the proposed P100-million increase in its 2019 budget.

“The PCOO must justify its budget increase. What are the deliverables? Are memes and blogs also hit by inflationary spikes? Is the cost of feeding the nation with government information adversely affected by TRAIN, too? Will the PCOO be hiring campaigners to explain federalism?” she asked.

“The obliterated amount from some agencies will hit hard the people, who badly need social services. What will sustain them are education, affordable food, health services and social assistance, not gaffes and reckless communication campaigns,” she added.

Sen. Joseph Victor Ejercito said the video was done “in bad taste.” “I hope it doesn’t happen again,” he added.

Earlier, Sen. Aquilino Pimentel hit Uson for what he described as a “bullshit” manner of explaining federalism to the public.

In an interview Monday afternoon, Pimentel said Uson should take a leave from advocating federalism and study first.

“Continue to be an ASec of the PCOO, continue to take advantage of your blog, but do not, in the meantime, involve yourself in promoting federalism until you have studied very well. Aral muna,” he told Uson.

“[The PCOO should] review its press release that it’s naming ASec. Mocha as a spokesperson for federalism, review il a’yon. Withdraw, choose another one,” Pimentel said, echoing Sotto.

Uson earned anew the ire of netizens due to a segment of her “online game show” with blogger Andrew Olivar on federalism.

On their “Good News Game Show,” the two introduced federalism with Olivar chanting, “I-pepe, i-pepe, i-dede, i-dede… ipederalismo!” with a lewd choreography.

Uson, in her defense, clarified that the video was shot before she was tapped by the Con-Com and Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) to help in the government’s information drive on federalism.

Philippines: Change to Federalism Has Staggering Price Tag — “Is this just treasury robbery?”

July 31, 2018

It’s a “a disaster… (considering) the duplication of all expenses at all levels.”

How much will the proposed shift to federalism cost? Estimates by experts vary, but they all agree on one thing: It will be huge.

The creation of a federal government will cost some P55 billion that would have “to come from the pockets of taxpayers,” Dr. Rosario Manasan of the Philippine Institute for Development Studies told a recent Senate hearing on the issue. The amount would go to the salaries of regional governors and vice governors, additional senators per region, additional members of the judiciary and their staff, as well as the operating expenses for the gargantuan new bureaucracy that would result from the creation of 16 plus two federal states.

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Under the federalism model proposed by the consultative committee convened by President Duterte, the Senate would have two senators per federal unit, or 36 senators from the current 24. The House of Representatives would expand from the current 250 members to 400.

Among the pluses advocates have cited for this shift in government is that regions would be given more “power of the purse” and greater control over projects they can implement, with each federated state enjoying “a more autonomous and responsive fiscal system.” The federal model, its proponents argue, will narrow the long-standing inequalities across regions of the country, especially the dominance of “imperial Manila” or “imperial Luzon.”

But experts have rung alarm bells over the cost of such a radical overhaul of government, led by the country’s chief economic manager himself, Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia, who warned that federalism could disrupt the Duterte administration’s infrastructure projects and “wreak havoc” on the country’s economy.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque belatedly tried to finesse the crisscrossing messaging from the Palace with a bald statement insisting that the shift “would have no adverse effect on the Philippine economy.”

Another person apparently aghast at the projected price tag is Marcos-era finance chief and former prime minister Cesar Virata. Federalism advocates, he said, “should consider that the cost of having a duplicate government” may reach more than P800 billion.

And, while federal states may have more in terms of revenue collections, only the National Capital Region, Calabarzon, Central Luzon and Central Visayas have the capacity to sustain their operations, Virata noted. The other federal regions will continue to be dependent on the national government.

Former chief justice Hilario Davide Jr., a framer of the 1987 Constitution, debunked the argument that federalism would give provinces a more equitable revenue stream from the national government by pointing out that a recent Supreme Court ruling had actually made moot the need to decentralize fiscal resources. The Court’s decision that the “just share” of LGUs’ internal revenue allotment must come from all national taxes—among them collections from import duties and other levies by the Bureau of Customs, and not only from national internal revenue taxes such as those collected by the Bureau of Internal Revenue—should help remedy the supposed problem of LGUs ending up with a pittance of the national budget.

Bernardo Villegas, long dubbed the “prophet of boom” for his consistently upbeat views on the Philippine economy, is gravely downbeat about the federal project, describing it as “a disaster… (considering) the duplication of all expenses at all levels.”

The staggering billions mentioned are only the projected expenses for the inevitable expansion of government. The campaign to win over a skeptical public—62 percent of Filipinos are against the shift, while 69 percent have “little or no knowledge” about federalism, according to surveys—entails additional cost. The Duterte administration said it will set aside P90 million for a nationwide awareness caravan to get more Filipinos aboard the federalism train.

Is it all worth it—to dangerously deplete the treasury to fund the pipe dream of a viable federal Philippines?

 / 05:09 AM July 31, 2018

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Philippines: Economic data shows red flags

July 30, 2018

If you torture data long enough, it will confess to anything,” British economist Ronald Coase once said. The current state of the local economy, for example, is such that it offers a wealth of empirical data to buttress the arguments of anyone in the political spectrum—hardliners, pundits and social media trolls alike. Depending on which side of the political fence one is on, information can easily be picked out, and picked apart, to ascribe credit or blame to whichever presidential administration one supports or opposes.

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On the issue of foreign investments in the Philippines, several quarters have expressed alarm over the flight of capital that appears to have been happening in recent months. In particular, the Philippines’ balance of payments, which represents the aggregate net value of the country’s transactions with the rest of the world for goods and services, now stands at a deficit of $3.26 billion in the first half of the year. With only six months’ worth of transactions having been tallied, the Philippine economy has already spent more than twice what the central bank was expecting for the entire 2018.

Malacañang critics also like to highlight the 58-percent drop in investment pledges in the first four months of 2018, as reported by the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (Peza), as evidence that things are looking south for the country. Both dollar outflows and the decline in pledges are also seen as worrisome indicators.

But there may be equally compelling data in the other direction. Consider the country’s foreign direct investments: During the first full year of the Duterte administration, foreign direct investments hit an all-time high of $10 billion. These long-term investments continued to surge during the first fourth months of the year, rising by 24 percent over last year’s figures.

Lobbing credit or blame for political one-upmanship is, of course, a much less useful exercise than actually taking stock of all these diverse, sometimes contradictory, information and using them to formulate or push for policies that will improve the lives of Filipinos, many of whom have no use for technical economic talk in their daily grind to make ends meet and put food on the table.

Is the Palace doing enough, for instance, to mitigate the inflationary spike, which the Duterte administration’s economic managers had said was “unexpected” but which is now generating mounting anxiety across much of the public? According to a Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey last June, 48 percent of Filipino families rated themselves as poor in the second quarter of 2018, a six-point jump from the number in March. That translates to around 11.1 million families. “The SRPTs (self-rated poverty threshold) for Mindanao, Balance Luzon and Metro Manila are at record-highs,” SWS said.

Is the administration doing enough as well to address other possible red flags in the economy? If the dollar spending can’t be helped, are policymakers implementing measures that will help the country earn more dollars by improving the competitiveness of the export sector?

As for the investment downturn, the government can draw in more investments by making sure that policies are stable and transparent; what’s the Philippines’ score again in that regard? Peza pledges should improve under such an environment. Public and private stakeholders, too, must be enjoined to work together to ensure that the economy continues to grow, and thus remains a good bet for investments.

While most foreign observers foresee continued growth for the Philippine economy, these early warning signs—inflation, depressed investment pledges, dollar outflows—appear to point at problems that need to be addressed urgently to stave off the possibility of bigger crises.

But there is one other, more unpredictable, element at play: politics. Echoing the concerns of many independent economists and thinkers, Moody’s Investors Service recently warned that the administration’s planned shift to federalism will be a “downside risk” to the economy. It added that “the Philippine president’s contentious policies on law and order over the past two years as well as other political controversies may have a negative impact on the Philippines’ attractiveness to financial and physical asset investors.”

In other words, if the country doesn’t look out, politics, in the end, may yet again prove to be the economy’s undoing.


Peace and Freedom Note: Our man in the Philippines says, “Chinese tourists just won’t come here. Too much crime and violence. We were hoping for more Chinese money by now…”

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Federalism in the Philippines: Stupid to cut up a nation

July 29, 2018
POSTSCRIPT – Federico D. Pascual Jr. (The Philippine Star) – July 29, 2018 – 12:00am

DESPITE traces of tribal rivalry in our dealings with one another, we Filipinos have managed somehow to stick together as a nation. There may be rumblings underfoot now and then, but we have kept marching forward as one.

Now what is this alarming disruption being sown by some merchants of political adventurism who seem bent on cutting up an already unified Republic and selling the bits and pieces down the river of federalism?

Surveys show that six out of every 10 wide awake Filipinos are wary of that newfangled federalism being served them. They are not so sure they want to replace the present Constitution with what could be a recipe for disaster. Nor do they trust those peddling the idea.

After two bumpy years in office, President Rodrigo Duterte cooks up a federalism agenda whose logic eludes us. In slash-burn fashion, he proposes to raze the existing political structure and build an entirely new one from the ashes.

While we concede the Davao ex-mayor’s capacity to destroy, we are not ready to believe in his ability to build a new nation from the ground up. He throws us off with his pretending to be ready to step down, but obviously preparing to step up to a federal regime by 2022.

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Near-dictatorial powers?

It’s scary. This first-time player has his finger on the Reset button to trigger an irreversible chain of events that will revise or totally replace – not just amend – the current Constitution from its title to the preamble down to the last word.

If Duterte’s experiment fails – and many experts in statecraft warn of a likely failure – it will be impossible to reboot the discarded system, or retrieve a backup mirror copy in the cloud, or fall back on an emergency alternate program.

• Why the need for federalism?

FEDERALISTS want to give the masses outside “imperial Manila” their fair share of the fat of the land and the fruits of development. Interestingly, we have seen that a sympathetic amending of the Local Government Code alone could correct much of the imbalance.

Why do we have to open up a patient just to neutralize a bug that has been identified, located and for which an antidote is ready? What really is the ulterior agenda for strapping the patient to the operating table to undergo a life-threatening procedure?

Duterte has the queer habit of keeping his hands in his pockets while conversing. What is he hiding?

The experiment that he is rushing will regroup the country’s 81 provinces and 145 cities into 16 federated regions (still to be delineated) in addition to an autonomous region in Muslim Mindanao and another in the Cordilleras.

While the country is being cut up into a jigsaw puzzle of sub-states, expect the entrenched political dynasties, warlords (and other *lords), secessionist groups, and a variety of political and economic cliques to scramble for continued control of their fiefdoms.

Duterte has been saying lately, btw, that with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front getting its own autonomous region (carved out under the just-enacted Bangsamoro Organic Law), he must also gift the older Moro National Liberation Front led by Nur Misuari a similar area.

What happens when (not “if”) other Muslim armed groups demand their own entitlement or the return of more ancestral land supposedly grabbed by Christian settlers who had migrated to, and now lord it over, Mindanao?

We are talking here only of dividing territory, not yet of other contentious issues. A treacherous rough road lies ahead on our way to 2022, after which “the permanence and indissolubility of the Federal Republic shall not be subject to constitutional amendment or revision.”

• Federalism to nip Muslim secession?

DUTERTE is gambling that giving Muslim regions no less than 50 percent of income, excise and value-added taxes, on top of shared legislative and judicial powers and other concessions, would dampen their aspirations for secession.

With so much power and discretion given the federated regions, the powerful bloc that firms up its claim on its bailiwick is likely to be able to perpetuate its hold on it and its proportionate representation in the federal legislative and judicial bodies.

Having grabbed the “KaPe” (kapangyarihan at pera, or power and money), the syndicate controlling a region would not need to line up dynastic officials to perpetuate its presence. Patronage politics in the Congress illustrates how the corrupt system works.

Who would referee the scramble for control of the federal regions – and the entire federal setup – as the country is cut up into fiefdoms? Despite his claim to be dying to retire, Duterte could do it by assuming near-dictatorial powers.

The power fight could create a crisis – resembling the “lawless violence” cited in the Constitution – that could be a cue for a budding dictator to step in to save Filipinos from themselves.

May the Armed Forces of the Philippines take over? It so happens that the federal constitution divests the AFP of its role assigned by the current charter of being “the protector of the people and the State.”

What to do? Honestly, I don’t know. As I said in my Postscript of July 8: “Whatever Duterte wants done will be done! The only force that can stop him is Divine Intervention or a Mass Upheaval, both of which seem unlikely at the moment.”

*      *      *

ADVISORY: All Postscripts can be accessed at Follow author on Twitter as @FDPascual. Email feedback to



Philippines: Senators solidly against any move to postpone next year’s midterm elections — Proposal for a change to federalism should not be rushed

July 26, 2018

Senators nix ‘no-el’ as step to charter change

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NO TO NEW CHARTER Protesters denounce moves to change the Constitution as they march along Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City on Monday before President Duterte’s State of the Nation Address. —RICHARD A. REYES
By:  – Reporter / @LeilasINQ
 / 07:00 AM July 26, 2018

The Senate stands solid against any move to postpone next year’s midterm elections to give way to the amendment of the Constitution for a shift to federalism.

The senators are also agreed that the proposal for a change to federalism should not be rushed.

But they are not permanently closing the door to the amendment of the Constitution.

They will allow the matter to be heard on the committee on constitutional amendments and put through intensive deliberation.

Full-chamber caucus

These are among the agreements the senators reached during a full-chamber caucus on Tuesday afternoon.

“Both the majority and minority are united in not rushing cha-cha [charter change] and to have elections in 2019 as scheduled,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto.

“Cha-cha” has become the code word for moves to amend or revise the 1987 Constitution, which politicians have been pushing since the 1990s to scrap term limits or change the form of government to federal or parliamentary.

Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri said the Senate was ready to pass a resolution opposing the postponement of the midterms if push comes to shove.

“None of us would agree to no-el,” Zubiri told reporters, using a shortcut for “no elections.”

“If the No-el talks will intensify, we are ready to come up with a sense of the Senate resolution, and I’m sure we will have 100 percent [support],” he added.

No to Con-ass

The Senate also decided not to agree to a constituent assembly (Con-ass) if there is no express commitment that both chambers of Congress will vote separately on proposed amendments to the Constitution.

As for the proposed federal constitution submitted by Malacañang to Congress, this will be heard on the committee on constitutional amendments chaired by Sen. Francis Pangilinan.

No timeline was set for the completion of the deliberations.

Pangilinan said a thorough study of the proposed federal Constitution was needed because of its far-reaching political and economic implications.

“The responsible and appropriate response is not to rush Charter change,” he said.

Several senators expressed misgivings about “infirmities” in the proposal, Zubiri said.

Local Gov’t Code

“This is a total overhaul of the system in the country. All agreed that this has to be studied and debated extensively. Definitely, we will not rush this,” he said.

From his reading of the situation, Recto believes that a “great majority” of the senators are against amending the Constitution.

He said he himself was against the proposed shift to federalism.

“Federalism will add to the bureaucracy, red tape, more taxes, greater tension in government, will promote dynasty, bad for economy, will result in credit downgrade, etc.,” he said.

Recto said the country would be better off amending the Local Government Code, implementing the Supreme Court decision giving a higher internal revenue allotment to local governments, and focusing on creating jobs and lowering the inflation rate.

Sen. Bam Aquino said it would be better to amend the Local Government Code to give greater powers to local governments, one of the objectives of the proposed change to federalism.

Aquino is part of a group looking into proposed amendments to the Local Government Code.

“We’ve come to the conclusion that Charter change is not needed to give local leaders what they want,” he said.

Long wait for GMA

Aquino also said the House of Representatives should wait for the Senate to complete its hearings on proposed amendments to the Constitution.

Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will have to wait quite some time because the Senate wants to hear all parties on the matter, he said.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III said there was a “very slim” chance that the chamber would approve any move to amend the Constitution this year.

Sotto said none of the senators included Charter change measures when they submitted their top three priority bills.

Former Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez had pushed for the postponement or cancellation of next year’s elections to give Congress more time to work on the proposed shift to federalism.

She wants to be PM?

Alvarez had also floated the idea of a constituent assembly without the Senate to amend the Constitution.

He lost the speakership to Arroyo in a coup that was supported by the House majority on Monday.

Arroyo has said she will carry out President Rodrigo Duterte’s legislative agenda, which includes the shift to federalism.

But former Senate President Aquilino Pimentel Jr. does not see the House rushing work on the draft federal Charter.

“I’m rather optimistic . . . but it doesn’t mean that it will be passed overnight,” Pimentel, a member of Malacañang’s consultative committee that wrote the draft Constitution, said at a news forum in San Juan City.

“A lot of people have expressed opposition [to the proposal] and for me, they should be heard,” he said.

Constitutional law professor Antonio La Viña said it would be difficult for the draft Charter to clear the House with Arroyo at the helm.

“I think she comes with serious baggage with people thinking that she will just use Cha-cha to run again, since she is on her last term, or to switch to a parliamentary system where she can become prime minister,” said La Viña, a former dean of Ateneo School of Government.

He said the House could make changes to the draft Charter, including providing for a parliamentary federal form of government.

“It has been [Arroyo’s] advocacy for a long time . . . It might be the direction of Cha-cha,” he said. With a report from Jhesset O. Enano

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Philippines: No need for federalism to empower people

July 25, 2018

The theory of lawyer Raul Lambino that “bringing local government closer to the people will improve the lot of the poor” (“Will ‘bringing government closer to the people’ help the poor?” Mapping the Future, Business, 5/14/18) sounds redundant, because the present decentralized form of local governments was precisely designed by law to work like that.

Republic Act No. 7160, or the Local Government Code of 1991, is replete with clear provisions that prescribed peoples’ participation in all aspects of local development programs, be it in health, education, environment, agriculture, public works, social welfare, the criminal justice system, tourism and the like. Its core purpose till today is to “privatize” public administration or “reinvent” the way we govern to help the many who are still poor.

Philippinen, Manila: Präsident Rodrigo Duterte hält eine Ansprache (Getty Images/AFP/N. Celis)

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte during his annual state of the nation address on Monday.

May I cite the case of Nueva Vizcaya, a very poor province in 1992, where more than half of the population was living below the poverty line, but whose provincial governor at the time used local autonomy and limited devolved powers more creatively by empowering people to rise above their poverty. He used simple but practical approaches in arresting environmental degradation, for example: “Take care of the people and they will take care of the forest,” he said. In a short time, the province earned recognition in forest management, peace and order, prison management, health, etc. and was a recipient of awards from Galing Pook.

After 12 years of sustained people’s participation in governance, the province’s poverty level of 52 percent in 1992 dropped dramatically to a low of 4 percent in 2003! In addition, Nueva Vizcaya distinguished itself as having generated the highest per capita income among 78 provinces in the Philippines.

Based on this well-documented success story of local autonomy, decentralization and devolution, there seems to be no need to shift to federalism to kick poverty and attain peace and order in the country. What is needed is for the Department of the Interior and Local Government to enforce and monitor LGUs to faithfully implement the Local Government Code. It may also be helpful for the congressional oversight committee to introduce meaningful amendments to the code.


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Philippines: Federalism Not The Answer To Out Problems

July 24, 2018

Every time a new administration takes over, the new President wants to extend his or her term. Isn’t six years long enough? I feel that the 1987 Constitution was well-crafted, carefully scrutinized and developed and passed through a Constitutional Commission. Let’s not mess around through a Constituent Assembly and a plebiscite which I’m sure will fail. Besides, the majority of the senators will oppose it. This exercise is just a waste of public funds and energy, and public support. The funds to be spent for federalism could be channeled for better purposes. Perhaps, President Duterte and his minions led by House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez should take a leaf at their objective or risk another People Power revolution. As a former highly respected Chief Justice, Hilario Davide Jr. once said “If it ain’t broken, why fix it?.”

Philippinen, Manila: Präsident Rodrigo Duterte hält eine Ansprache (Getty Images/AFP/N. Celis)

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte during his annual state of the nation address on Monday.

INTROSPECTIVE – Tony Katigbak (The Philippine Star) – July 24, 2018 – 12:00am

As it is, President Duterte has been doing a good job as SWS and Pulse Asia surveys show, unlike US President Donald Trump who always takes ‘missteps’ who, I feel is in danger of being impeached or being voted out after his four-year term at the White House. Here, former president Joseph ‘Erap’ Estrada was kicked out of office for plunder.

As of this writing, President Duterte is going or has delivered his annual 3rd SONA at the Batasan Pambansa. I’m not quite sure if he will bring up the issue of federalism. I’m not sure as to how the audience will accept his plan of a federal state. I am not in favor of federalism as a majority of senators or even the voters. Maybe, the President should just dwell on his achievements like going out after criminals, drug lords and addicts, rapists, murderers and imposing a curfew on minor out on the streets after 10 pm. The President has been doing a good job at diplomacy and is already being internationally recognized. He has three years left as president to continue.

Just junk the idea of federalism and focus on what he is doing today. I’m sure the next president will find ‘Digong’ Duterte’s accomplishments a hard act to follow.





Philippines: Uneasy Looking Rodrigo Duterte Vows to Continue ‘Relentless and Chilling’ Drugs War — Anti-Government Protests Mar State of the Nation Address

July 24, 2018

In his annual state of the nation address, President Rodrigo Duterte has said his brutal war on drugs in the Philippines “is far from over.” Thousands rallied outside Congress against his autocratic rule.

Philippinen, Manila: Präsident Rodrigo Duterte hält eine Ansprache (Getty Images/AFP/N. Celis)

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte vowed to continue his campaign against illegal drugs in his annual state of the nation address on Monday.

Duterte, 73, told a joint session of Congress that protests from activists and other critics will not dissuade him from his fight against illegal drugs, which has killed thousands and drawn international condemnation.

“Let me begin by putting it bluntly: The war against illegal drugs is far from over,” said Duterte, who is entering the third year of his six-year term. “The illegal drugs war will not be sidelined. Instead, it will be as relentless and chilling, if you will, as the day it began.”

‘My concern is human lives’

Duterte said that billions of Philippine pesos worth of narcotics were still being seized by law enforcement. Since his war began, police have killed more than 4,500 people they say were suspected drug pushers who resisted arrest, although human rights groups have said the real number could be three to five times greater.

The crackdown is now the subject of a preliminary examination by prosecutors of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Philippine protesters burn effigy (Getty Images/AFP/T. Aljibe)Protesters burn an effigy of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte during his state of the nation address

Tens of thousands of flag-waving demonstrators, representing the church, women’s groups and labor unions, rallied near Congress in the Philippine capital of Manila to protest Duterte’s autocratic rule and the violence under his administration. The Philippine leader said such protests were “misdirected.”

“Your concern is human rights, mine is human lives,” he said. “The lives of our youth are being wasted and families are destroyed, and all because of the chemicals called shabu (a slang term for methamphetamine in the region), cocaine, cannabis and heroin.”

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Leadership row delayed speech

Duterte read his prepared 50-minute speech in full, unlike his previous two addresses, during which he went off script on to blast critics in tangential rambles.

His speech was delayed by more than an hour after a leadership row erupted in the Philippine House of Representatives, live on television, while trying to elect a new House speaker, Former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

Arroyo, 71, backed by an entourage of allied legislators, took the main seat in the center of the House’s plenary hall — a sign that she was replacing House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez. Arroyo tried to speak through the ensuing chaos but her microphone turned off. She attempted to yell to explain what was happening, but she was resigned to leaving the stage.

Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (picture-alliance/AP Photo/A. Favila)Representative and ex-President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo was sworn in as House speaker after turmoil in the chamber

Alvarez and Senate President Vicente Sotto, both close allies of Duterte, led a visibly confused Philippine president, who had arrived at the heavily secured congressional complex via helicopter, to a holding room as the dispute over House leadership unfolded in the chamber.

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Nuns join thousands of protesters in a march to coincide with President Rodrigo Duterte and his third State of the Nation Address Monday, July 23, 2018

“They chose to disrespect their own president and attend to their own ambitions in full view of the nation. For almost an hour, it seemed that nobody was in control,” opposition Senator Risa Hontiveros said. “This is the true state of the nation. It is petty infighting, backstabbing, and brinkmanship, all done at the people’s expense.”

Arroyo was eventually sworn in late Monday by the 292-member house, which is largely dominated by the president’s allies, before Duterte’s speech.

dv/se (AP, dpa, Reuters)


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Image result for Duterte, july 23, 2018, photos