THE federal system being pushed by Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte will create 14 states, which is equivalent to the regional groupings at present.
In his speech at the Lyceum University of the Philippines on Tuesday, Duterte reiterated the urgent need to adopt a federal system of government, noting that local governments receive very little financial share from the national government.
“It’s hard to achieve economic progress under a unitary government, which is what we have now. We have no authority to decide concerning our own budget. How can we move forward under the [current]set-up, when all the money must be forwarded to the national treasury, in the hands of the national treasurer?” he said.
Duterte was guest speaker during the university’s 63rd foundation anniversary and 124th birth anniversary of its founder, Dr. Jose P. Laurel.
The mayor said the current system has more disadvantages because all the income and revenues, except from property tax, need to be turned over to the national government.
“I am batting for federalism because under this set-up, we can easily provide jobs for our constituents as we have full authority [over]our own income,” Duterte explained.
He said under the unitary system, “every centavo, all of the funds are there. It’s only the national government that can handle the money for all of us.”
Duterte cited the case of Mindanao, which contributes about 54 percent to the country’s dollar earnings yet the region does not receive enough support from the government.
“We have to change this system,” he said.
According to the mayor, the Americans perpetuated the unitary type of government.
“Then they helped us frame our own Constitution during the time of President Manuel L. Quezon similar to theirs. The Americans made us adopt the same unitary type of government that was imposed by the Spaniards on us but different from that of the United States, which has a federal form of government,” he said.
“The US knew how difficult it is to deal with two sets of powerful sectors under the federal set-up, the federal government and state or regional governors. But under the unitary mode, they only need to deal with one or two figures and their franchises are already approved,” Duterte added.
He said the creation of federal states, especially for the Muslims who have been clamoring for self-governance, is the best option for the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity, which will be created with passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law in Congress.