Recto defends Duterte economic team on federalism

Camille Elemia
Recto defends Duterte economic team on federalism
'Before we communicate what federalism is, can we not first calculate what its cost will be?' says Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto

MANILA, Philippines – Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto defended President Rodrigo Duterte’s economic managers in the face of a call to dismiss them for opposing federalism.

“You don’t shut them out of the discussions. You bring them in because the cost of federalism is front and center of the issue,” Recto said in a statement Sunday, August 12.

Recto explained that the economic managers are “integral and indispensable to the national conversation” on federalism. He said they can “provide a reality check if a proposal is financially feasible and fundable.” (READ: Additional P44B to P72B needed for federalism shift – gov’t think tank)

The senator, who once served as socioeconomic planning secretary, said the proposal should undergo a fiscal responsibility check, especially now that the country’s debts are on the rise. (READ: Senators question P90-M budget for federalism info drive)

“Before we communicate what federalism is, can we not first calculate what its cost will be? Every proposal has a cost. Scratch the surface of every provision of a bill, and there is a price tag underneath. We are often told the benefits of a project but not the price,” Recto said.

“Running the numbers is a politics-free exercise. You cannot bend it to suit one’s position. If it is financing federalism, then the results of the studies and simulations should be the basis of how to move forward,” Recto said.

While he himself does not often agree with the economic managers on many issues, Recto said he listens to, values, and appreciates their thoughts and views.

“Because at the end of the day, it is they who will raise the revenues in implementing proposals we politicians love to sponsor,” Recto said.

Consultative Committee member and San Beda Graduate School of Law dean Father Ranhilio Aquino earlier called on President Rodrigo Duterte to fire Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III and Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia.

This was after Dominguez and Pernia voiced concerns about the proposed shift to a federal system of government.

Dominguez called the Con-Com’s draft charter “confusing” and said he will not vote in favor of it at this time. Pernia said the shift will “wreak havoc” on the economy.

At the Senate, calls for charter change are practically dead. Senators are not keen on convening into a Constituent Assembly (Con-Ass) to amend the 1987 Constitution.

There are apprehensions that the 23-member Senate might be forced into a joint voting scenario in a Con-Ass, where they will be practically drowned out by the more than 200 members of the House of Representatives. (READ: Joint voting on Cha-Cha? Senate’s problems, plans against it) –

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Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is a former multimedia reporter for Rappler. She covered media and disinformation, the Senate, the Office of the President, and politics.