By Ellson Quismorio
A deputy Minority leader in the House of Representatives has suggested an approach that the Constitutional Commission (Con-Com) could take up to be more laser-focused in their task.
According to AKO-Bicol Party-list Rep. Alfredo Garbin, the Con-Com, which is headed by the highly respected former Supreme Court (SC) Chief Justice Reynato Puno, should not lose sight on giving the local government units (LGUs) true autonomy under the proposed federal government.
“I haven’t gone reading the output of the Con-Com as it has yet to be officially submitted to Congress. I suggest, however, that a problem-and-goal-driven approach should be undertaken by the Con-Com,” he said.
“[The Con-Com] must then look into the preexisting conditions that frustrate the progress toward genuine LGU autonomy and how these can be addressed as a step toward evaluating the costs and benefits of shifting from a unitary to a federal regime,” added Garbin, who is a lawyer.
Malacañang formed the Commission to serve as a consultative body to review the existing 1987 Charter.
There is an ongoing effort in the House of Representatives to open up the existing Charter to amendments to pave the way for the switch to a federal form of government.
It should be noted that whatever suggested amendments the Con-Com will come up with will remain as such unless Congress approves them.
The biggest drawback of the current unitary form of government as experienced by common persons is overcentralization, which forces Filipinos to travel all the way to Metro Manila just to complete a government transaction or avail of a service.
President Duterte, the first chief executive who hails from Mindanao, is the biggest advocate for the switch toward federalism.
In January or the height of the talk of the Con-Com’s formation , House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, another Mindanaoan, underscored the importance of the LGUs’ role in a federalized regime.
Alvarez said ditching the unitary system in favor of federalism would strengthen the LGUs and would also allow them to retain huge chunks of their wealth and resources for their own use.
The Speaker went as far to say that those who oppose federalism don’t want the country’s provinces to enjoy development.
“Kung ayaw mo ng federalism ibig sabihin ayaw mong umunlad mga probinsya (If you don’t favor federalism then that means you don’t want the provinces to have progress),” he said.