The Philippines should just have five federal states in order for it to succeed in its planned shift to federalism, an Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) official said on Wednesday.
Lawyer Randolph Parcasio, consultant to ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman, made the pitch during a public hearing on the situation of autonomous regions as a prelude to federalism conducted by the House Committee on Constitutional Amendments.
“Each federal state must be able to stand on its own. If we will have 15 or 14 regional or federal states, there will be rich and poor states, and as such, we will need an equalization fund. We can’t afford to have such rich and beggar states,” Parcasio told lawmakers.
“It would be ideal if we will have five federal states: Mindanao, Visayas and three in Luzon. This way, every state can stand on its own,” he said.
The three federal states in Luzon will be Metro Manila, Calabarzon-Bicol Region and Northern Luzon-Central Luzon, including Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) .
“This is an initial step. In the event that members of a certain federal state feel that they are already economically viable to form a separate federal state, then the law should allow them to apply to become one, much like how municipalities apply to become cities,” Parcasio said.
He is one of the three resource persons who attended the hearing from the ARMM. The other two were also lawyers: Ishak Mastura, chairman of the ARMM Board of Investments; and Anwar Malang, secretary of the Department of Trade and Industry in ARMM.
The resource persons from CAR are: Baguio City Mayor Mauricio Domogan, also the chairman of the Cordillera Regional Development Council; Director Milagros Rimando, vice Cchairman of the RDC-CAR; and Marlo Iringan, an engineer and regional director of the Department of the Interior and Local Government-CAR.
The Duterte administration is pushing for a Constitutional Assembly wherein lawmakers of the House of Representatives and the Senate will amend the Constitution and install a federal form of government that would be composed of 11 independent states under a federal government.
Each federal state will have the authority to craft its laws, as well as manage its resources, but would still have to split its income, with 25 percent going to the national government and 75 percent to the concerned region since the national government will retain its full jurisdiction on foreign affairs, national defense, police and monetary policy.