The Philippines should start with five federal states as it makes its transition to federalism, an official for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) said on Wednesday.
Lawyer Randolph Parcasio, consultant to ARMM Gov. Mujiv Hataman, made the pitch during a public hearing at the House of Representatives on the situation of autonomous regions.
“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,” Parcasio added.
The three federal states in Luzon will be composed of: Metro Manila, Calabarzon-Bicol Region and Northern Luzon-Central Luzon, including the 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 added.
Parcasio was one of three resource persons who attended the hearing from the ARMM. The other two were lawyers Ishak Mastura, chairman of the ARMM Board of Investments, and Anwar Malang, regional secretary of the Department of Trade and Industry in the ARMM.
Other resource persons were from the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR). They are:
Baguio City Mayor Mauricio Domogan, chairman of the Cordillera Regional Development Council (RDC)-CAR; Director Milagros Rimando, vice chairman of the RDC-CAR; and Engineer Marlo Iringan, regional director of DILG-CAR.
The Duterte administration is pushing for a constitutional assembly wherein lawmakers of the House and Senate will amend the Charter to allow the shift to a federal form of government to be composed of 11 states.
Each federal state will have the authority to craft its laws and manage its resources but will still have to divide its income with 25 percent going to the national government and 75 percent for the perusal of the concerned region since the national government will retain its full jurisdiction on foreign affairs, national defense, policing and the monetary policy.