Robredo: Federalism a good idea, but are we ready?
LANAO DEL SUR, Philippines – Vice President Leni Robredo said on Thursday, July 7, that shifting to a federal system, as proposed by the President, is a good idea, but there are question that need to be resolved before she fully supports the initiative.
Citing her late husband's campaign for greater local autonomy, Robredo said federalism would "elevate that into a higher plane."
Robredo was married to the late Naga City mayor and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo. She was asked about the proposed shift to federalism after she spoke at the symbolic mass oath taking of the newly elected officials of Marawi City and Lanao del Sur.
"But I have questions that need to be answered first. One of them is the readiness of the provinces, of the regions to stand on their own. They have varying levels of preparedness," she said in a mix of English and Filipino.
She cited Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Central Visayas, Western Visayas, and the National Capital Regions as the ones that are ready to become autonomous states.
"Pero papaano iyong gaya sa amin, Bicol region? Papaano iyong ARMM?" she said. (But how about those that are like our region, Bicol? How about the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao?)
The Vice President pointed out that a number of municipalities across the country are still dependent on the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) for their operations, indicating their lack of capability to raise incomes independent of the national government.
“The locally-generated funds are still small. I just want to know how this will be resolved,” Robredo said.
“But I am open, I am willing to listen, I am open to any suggestions that would answer my questions,” said Robredo, who visited the Arms to Farms site, where former rebels are given livelihood opportunities.
Mindanaoans for federalism
Former Senator Aquilino Pimentel Jr, founding member of the Partido Demokratikong Pilipino-Laban ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), to which President Duterte belongs, said that the shift to federalism would likely results to 11 federal states: 4 in Luzon, 4 in the Visayas, and 3 in Mindanao.
The shift to federalism is also seen as way to end decades of armed conflict in Mindanao, with the ARMM being given much autonomy.
In the ARMM, the federalism is widely accepted among young politicians.
ARMM Regional Assemblyman Zia Alonto Adiong of Lanao del Sur said that he is pushing for federalism, alongside with the passage of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law.
Bangsamoro National Movement for Peace and Development vice chairperson Drieza Lininding also supports federalism, saying it will remove the Bangsamoro from the dictates of "imperial" Manila.
In a separate interview, Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri, who hails from Bukidnon, also declared his support to the shift to federal government, saying it assures fiscal autonomy for the regions, especially in Mindanao.
“Federalism will put us in better autonomy. We can manage our own income, and we can formulate our programs. each federal state must work hard for its development. We don’t have to rely on national program anymore,” Zubiri said. – Rappler.com