Robredo: Federalism raises 'more questions than answers'
MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Leni Robredo expressed her reservations about President Rodrigo Duterte's bid to shift to a federal system of government, saying it raises "more questions than answers."
"Perhaps to many, federalism may be a plausible solution to our country's problems. But what form? Which model? There seems to be confusion. But there is something more important to consider," Robredo said in a speech before the Foundation for Economic Freedom (FEF) on Thursday, February 23.
"If federalism is the answer, what is the question? What do we want to achieve by it? Is it devolution? Is it progress for Mindanao? Is it inclusive growth and reduction of poverty?" she asked. (READ: Robredo: No need to overhaul Constitution)
Shifting to federalism is among the key campaign promises of Duterte. Federalism is believed to allow the distribution of wealth and economic growth to all parts of the Philippines, especially Mindanao.
Robredo stressed, however, that there should be "more sensible questions" asked about the proposal.
"Is federalism the only way the Philippines can save itself? Is the Philippines ready for federalism? Can the Constituent Assembly be trusted to act in the people's best interests? At this point, I feel that there are more questions than answers," she said.
She also raised whether local government units have the capacity to be financially independent, and the possible abuse of power at the local level under a federal type of government. (READ: How many states should PH have under federalism?)
"Our fear is that federalism might be too drastic a remedy for this particular problem. If we look at the dependence or independence, economic dependence or independence of our provinces, I think of our regions, I think of the 17 regions, only two have internally generated incomes," she said.
For the Vice President, the current presidential form of government, however faulty, is the "best option" the country has.
Despite being a priority measure of the administration, lawmakers say the shift to federalism will not see the light of day this year as Congress has yet to settle several issues before it can move forward. (READ: Recto withdraws support for Cha-Cha, opposes federalism) – Rappler.com