Autonomy and federalism can co-exist, solons told
Officials from the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) on Wednesday told lawmakers that their region can remain autonomous even in a federal form of government.
During the House of Representations constitutional amendments committee hearing, Baguio City mayor Mauricio Domogan and ARMM regional governor consultant Randolph Parcasio said autonomy and federalism can co-exist.
Domogan lamented that the CAR continues to receive the lowest share of internal revenue allotment, only receiving P14.87 billion or 3.05 percent of the total IRA in 2017.
The region also received the lowest share from the budgets of the major departments and agencies, Domogan added.
Domogan said federalism and autonomy can co-exist, but only if the federal states and administrative regions like CAR be given more fiscal autonomy to generate their own revenue.
He suggested the creation of a transitory government to prepare local government units in the shift toward federalism.
“While we are not against it, we are supporting it, but there are a lot of serious issues that ought to be tackled before we can possibly come out with what model, what kind of federal form of government we will adopt,” Domogan said.
“The local government units all over the country, to our view, are not yet ready financially administratively to become federal states. It is therefore our strong suggestion that there must be a transitory government to prepare the local government units, if ever, to move toward federalism,” he added.
Asked if federalism and autonomy can co-exist, Domogan said: “Definitely, yes, it can exist.”
Parcasio said dividing the country into several federal states could only lead to fragmentation that would be taken advantage of by warlords controlling their territories.
“We believe dividing the country to many federal states would lead to fragmentation. Not only will it lead to fragmentation, but to the rule of warlords,” Parcasio said.
Parcasio suggested the creation of large federal states — Northern Luzon, Metro Manila, Bicol, Calabarzon, Visayas, and the Mindanao regional federal governments — in order to prevent the creation of poor and rich states in a federal state of government.
The Mindanao federal government will have a Bangsamoro autonomous region, Parcasio added.
“To our mind, what would be more economically viable is to have federal big states,” he said.
The lower House is tackling federalism as a model of government after the chamber at the committee level voted to convene in a constituent assembly to pitch amendments to the 1987 Constitution, which includes the shift from presidential to federal form of government. JE
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