Federalist questions (Part 19)



Erik Espina

Erik Espina

Cost estimates for the shift to a federal form of government are reported as follows. The Consultative Committee which drafted the federalist charter put it at P13.29 billion, with 12 additional senators from the present 24, plus 108 more members for the House of Representatives from 18 federated regions, excluding a Bangsamoro Federal State. Salaries, office expenses, consultants, etc., aside, what about the P200-million pork barrel for each senator in the previous Congress? In the House deputy speakers are gratuitously granted P1.8-billion while favored congressmen have P900 million each for pet projects? Does the estimate factor, as well, the increase in the number of Supreme Courts from one to four? SC justices from 15 to 48, with the creation of three more high courts — Federal Electoral Court, Federal Constitutional Court, and Federal Administrative Court.

Figures by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) quote a boggling P131 to P253-billion addition to the current cost of operating the government. “Fiscal pressures…unquantifiable costs…difficult to ascertain whether or not a federal structure will work in the Philippines,” NEDA reported.

Rosario Manasan, a senior research fellow of the Philippine Institute for Development Studies, presented a P44 to P72-billion outlay, separate from the budget, for holding a plebiscite for the new constitution.

Some quick points. In a federal system, will previously established jurisprudence by the Supreme Court be overturned? Open to revision? Is there a costly “learning curve” in tutoring government and people in administering federal and state relations? What about the political promise of a second Bangsamoro Regional State for Sulu? What of Sabah?