It is a bit premature to tell for now whether Filipinos are against federalism since the specifics of the mode of government have yet to be completed, let alone released.
This was the reaction of Bohol Gov. Edgar Chatto when asked about the survey done reflecting majority of Filipinos are against changing the form of government from unitary to federal form.
The issue stems from a survey done by Pulse Asia last March where it was revealed about 66 percent of Filipinos are against the plan to shift to a federal form of government.
Chatto’s assessment is also the position of Department of Interior and Local Government Assistant Sec. Jonathan Malaya.
Malaya said it is premature for Filipinos to enter into any discussion about federalism. He said the survey was conducted before the government can release its proposal for the new form of government.
“I would think that the Filipinos are like that because up to now there is no concrete proposal yet on the table. That’s why my initial impression when I heard this report come out in the media the other day was this is premature because there is nothing really to debate about yet,” Malaya told news site Rappler.
Chatto said it is too early to decide on the merits of federalism since the proposal coming from the consultative body formed by President Duterte.
At this point in time only the general concepts of federalism are available, and the specifics are yet to be consolidated and presented to the people.
He said the governors of all the provinces were asked for a position on the kind of federalism that should be implemented in the country.
Chatto said he signed the position of the League of Governors. He is the secretary-general of the league.
He said town to town consultations should be done once the proposals have been consolidated by the consultative body.
The governor said, congress submitted its proposal, the DILG has its own proposal, as well as the ruling party Partido Demokratiko ng Pilipinas-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) also submitted their proposal on the specifics of the federalism form.
“Di pa ta ka storya ug proposal na imaginary,” (we cannot discuss any imaginary proposal) said Chatto.
Pulse Asia conducted a survey from March 23 to 28 around three months before the consultative body will be able to finally submit the consolidated proposals on the specifics of the federal form of government.
The specifics are amendments to the 1987 Constitution. The biggest amendment proposal is the shift from the present unitary and centralized government to a federal form of government.
It showed about 66 percent of Filipinos are don’t agree on the shift towards federalism.
The result of the survey has hit the DILG hard since it has been the leading government agency in the promotion of the shift towards federalism.
Malaya said the DILG has not yet gone into full steam about the promotion of federalism since it is waiting for the draft coming from the consultative body.
One of the members of the consultative body is lawyer Victor de la Serna, the former OIC governor of Bohol.
There has been a lot of apprehension about the shift towards federalism. One of the apprehensions is the wealth distribution.
Many are in the dark on how the system will distribute the wealth especially to poor areas of the country.
Unlike now that the central government provides or allots internal revenue allotment (IRA) to local government units, the practice might be modified under a federal system.
Rich areas may be able to survive on their own given their ability to generate revenues. It is possible for some areas which poor revenue generation left without support from the government.
A source said however, the decrease or removal of the IRA should not happen in a federal system. In a federal system, the IRA should not only stay but increase.
The idea remains to be seen with the lack of specifics on the wealth sharing aspect.
Last month, Sen. Cynthia Villar said she has yet to really grasp the idea of federalism and in no rush to really enter into discussions about it. (DSA)