Provinces located farther from the center of government experience the least development under the current system, according to the members of the Consultative Committee (Concom).
“The farther you are from the central government, hindi ka makikita at lalo nang hindi maaambunan ng mga biyaya,” says Concom member Professor Eddie Alih during a media forum conducted by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) in Dipolog City on Wednesday.
Under the unitary system, around 64% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) is contributed by the National Capital Region (NCR), Calabarzon, and Central Luzon, indicating that only three regions experience strong growth.
The regions which report fast expansion only benefit from the spillover effects of Metro Manila’s development.
This is also due to the lack of representatives of Visayas and Mindanao in Senate.
Out of the 24 Senators in the country, only three come from Mindanao, two from Visayas, while 20 come from Luzon.
“The 1987 Constitution established an elitist democracy, failed to resolve the various internal conflicts and failed to deliver on social justice and inclusive growth,” says Institute of Political and Electoral Reforms (IPER) Executive Director Ramon Casiple, adding that the 1987 Constitution did not deliver on participative representation.
In answer to this issue, Concom’s draft Bayanihan Federal Constitution provides that each region will have two individuals seated in the Senate, allowing equal representation in all regions of the Philippines.
“We decided that there should be two senators per region to represent the region in the formation of national policies,” says Concom member Atty. Susan Ubalde-Ordinario.
Federalism will also help solve poverty and spur regional development by giving the regions both the power and funds to come up and implement the solutions to their own problems.
Concom member Professor Edmund Tayao explains that under federalism, if the Local Government Code does not satisfy the regions, we will allow the regions to craft their own local government codes through the regional assembly.
“Pinapalakas natin ang planning ng local governments, pinapalakas ang decision-making process ng local governments… So ang usapin ng pederalismo is a question of opportunity, because we know exactly where we stand, so we know exactly where to go,” says Concom member Professor Edmund Tayao.
The DILG is currently holding its 10th regional roadshow for federalism for the people of Zamboanga Peninsula.
The roadshow consists of a media forum on the first day as well as a Pederalismoserye town hall meeting and convention/rally on the second day.
“As advocacy partners, we need to speak the same language, sing the same tune on the subject of federalism. Makialam, makilahok tayo sa usapin ng pederalismo,” says DILG Regional Director Paisal O. Abutazil, Ceso III.