Former House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano is prodding the presidential candidates in the May 2022 elections to include countryside development in their respective platforms.
Cayetano, who is gunning for a return to the Senate in the upcoming polls, gave this advice to the “presidentiables” at the height of the campaign period.
“I hope countryside development will be a part of the platforms of our presidentiables so they will no longer have to say ‘Here in Samar, life is difficult.’ ‘Here in Cebu, it is prosperous,”‘ the Taguig-Pateros 1st district representative told reporters in mixed Filipino and English on Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2022.
Cayetano said he is hoping that the next administration will have a nationwide program and roadmap to “finally implement” countryside development, a program he has been pushing in Congress in the last 10 years.
He noted that such program would empower provinces outside the nation’s capital, especially those where there is little to no infrastructure projects or businesses.
“I hope there will be a nationwide program and a roadmap so we can finally implement this,” Cayetano said.
The veteran lawmaker said it is important not only that the budget allocation be equally divided among all provinces across the Philippines but that the entire process of construction, including the planning and bidding stages, be conducted at the local government level to prevent corruption.
“It is important not only that we distribute the funding to the provinces, like the budget allocation for the government’s ‘Build, Build, Build’ program, but that the planning and bidding stages of the projects be conducted in their respective local governments to prevent corruption as the local media will be able to scrutinize them,” he explained.
Cayetano has been pushing for countryside development in Congress for the last decade, citing federalism and its benefits to the regions outside of Metro Manila as one of the reasons he decided to become then-Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte’s running mate in 2016.
But he said Constitutional amendments, which are required to change the country’s system of government, are not needed to push countryside development since further devolution and decentralization can still be implemented.
“Even if we do not amend the Constitution, we can continue to devolve, decentralize, and empower our provinces, especially our island provinces,” Cayetano said.
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