The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) firmly believes that federalism will fix 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,” says DILG Assistant Secretary Jonathan E. Malaya.
He adds that although it’s important to give in-depth research and careful study on the experiences of foreign countries in federalizing, it’s difficult to assume that what happens in other countries will likewise happen in the Philippines.
“It’s unlikely that we will have the exact same story of development as each country is a product of their own history and culture,” says Malaya.
Poverty linked to political dynasties
Meanwhile, during the DILG roadshow in Cagayan de Oro this week, Consultative Committee member Eddie Alih states that the presence of political dynasties is associated with higher poverty and lower income among the locals.
He says that P3.5-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,” says Alih.
The unitary system fails 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, according to Alih.
Concom’s model decentralizes the central government and distributes the power and wealth to the regions.
The regional government will have exclusive powers over the socioeconomic development over their areas as well as funds to do so.
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, according to Malaya.
The challenge thus 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 conducting its federalism roadshows in the regions.
This week, the Department 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.