Federalism gets majority backing in Senate

Posted at 04/28/2008 11:58 PM

The proposal for a shift to federalism gets majority backing at the Senate, after a total of 13 out of 23 senators expressed support for the move.


Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri on Monday expressed support for Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel's proposed resolution to adopt a federal system of government, bringing the total number of senators endorsing the move to 13.


He joins Pimentel, Senate President Manuel Villar, and Senators Edgardo Angara, Pia Cayetano, Juan Ponce Enrile, Francis Escudero, Jinggoy Estrada, Gregorio Honasan, Panfilo Lacson, Francis Pangilinan, Ramon Revilla Jr., and Rodolfo Biazon in supporting the resolution.


Only last February, senators criticized an apparent move by Malacañang to revive Charter Change, saying it was an attempt to distract the public's attention from corruption charges against the Arroyo administration.


Pimentel: President will be retained in new system


On Sunday, Pimentel clarified that the presidential form of government will be retained under the federalism proposal.


In a statement, he said that what the federal system seeks to replace is the existing unitary system which is "characterized by the over concentration of powers in the national government."


"The present Constitution provides for a unitary system of government where the country’s development programs are centrally- determined, planned, funded and implemented by the national government in Manila," Pimentel said.


"Apparently, there is some misconception that the adoption of a federal system will mean the phaseout of the presidential form... But this is farthest from truth because the presidential set-up will be retained even if we shift to a federal system," he added.


Senate to be reorganized


Pimentel clarified that his proposal pertained more to the sharing of powers between the central government and the subordinate states or local government units, than to the sharing of powers between the executive and legislative branches.


In his resolution, Congress will still be the legislative branch of government but the Senate will be reorganized.


Under the proposal, each federal state shall be represented by six senators elected by those living in the state, and an additional nine senators will be elected by qualified Filipino citizens overseas.


The House of Representatives will have not more tha 350 members elected by legislative districts.


Amending 1987 Constitution


Senate Resolution No. 10, which was filed last Thursday, called for amending the 1987 Constitution and the eventual adoption of a federal system of government.


The joint resolution called to convene Congress into a Constituent Assembly to revise the Constitution to establish a federal system of government.


"The highly centralized system of government has brought about a spotty development of the nation where preferential treatment has been given to localities whose officials are friendly with, or have easy access to, an incumbent administration," the resolution stated.


If the proposed revision of the Constitution pushes through, the country would then be called the Federal Republic of the Philippines.


11 states plus Metro Manila


The resolution called for the creation of eleven States out of the Republic, which "would establish centers of finance and development in the archipelago."


The states would be Northern Luzon, Central Luzon, Southern Tagalog, Bicol, Minparom (Mindoro, Palawan, and Romblon), Eastern Visayas, Central Visayas, Western Visayas, Northern Mindanao, Southern Mindanao and BangsaMoro.


Metro Manila would then become the Federal Administrative Region, the resolution stated.


"The federalization of the Republic would speed up the development of the entire nation and help dissipate the causes of the insurgency throughout the land, particularly, the centuries-old Moro rebellions," the resolution added.


Pimentel said the shift to a federal system of government aims to accomplish two main goals: the swift development of the entire country, and the elimination of the root causes of rebellion, particularly in Mindanao. Kris Danielle Suarez, abs-cbnNEWS.com, with reports from Lynda Jumilla, ABS-CBN News and ANC