3 Visayas local execs favor federalism
TACLOBAN CITY-There is apparently no need for Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez to threaten local officials into supporting the administration’s push to revise the 1987 Constitution and federalize the government.
Local officials of Leyte, Northern Samar and Negros Occidental are in favor amending the Constitution to pave the way for the changing of the form of government.
Negros Occidental Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr. said the threat made by Alvarez didn’t affect them since they had been supportive of Charter change.
He pointed out that he didn’t support the 1986 Constitution because he was for the federal form of government.
Bacolod City Mayor Evelio Leonardia, for his part, said that he too favored Charter change to shift into federalism.
“It’s time we made the Constitution dynamic and responsive to the call of the times,“ Leonardia said.
But former Negros Occidental governor Rafael Coscolluela was not amused by Alvarez’ statement.
“Who gave the Speaker the right to treat the budget like it was his money? This is nothing but undisguised blackmail,” he said.
Last Thursday, Alvarez told local officials that he would give zero budget to provinces whose leaders would not cooperate in the administration’s move to tinker the 1986 Constitution and federalize the government.
In a speech during the oath-taking of new Partido Demokratikong Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) in Pototan town, the Speaker said that while he would not force members of the political opposition to toe the line, they should respect his “right” to deprive them of the yearly budget for their constituencies.
“Of course, those provinces that do not cooperate, then let us give them zero budget,” said Alvarez in Filipino.
“I am not the type to force anyone. If you don’t join us, okay. I respect that. It’s your right. But like I say, you should also respect my right to give you zero budget, right?” he added.
But threats were not necessary since local officials had already thrown their full support to the administration.
“We are already for federalism to decentralize resources and personnel of our government … Governor Jun Ong’s membership in PDP-Laban will just cement our federalist ideals for better and progressive province in general,” said Josiah Rei Echano, spokesperson of Northern Samar Governor Jose Ong.
Northern Samar is among the country’s most economically depressed provinces with 52.4-percent poverty rate based on the 2015 poverty survey of the Philippine Statistics Authority.
Barugo Mayor Maria Rosario Avestruz, spokesperson of the mayors’ league for Leyte said they were not affected by the threat since all elected officials of the province, including Governor Leopoldo Dominico Petilla, were allies of President Duterte.
“The reason why Governor Petilla and all elected officials here in the province joined the PDP-Laban is to ensure that we will have the support of Malacañang, of the President,” Avestruz said.
“And as political allies, the President can count on us as far as supporting all his programs,” she added.
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