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Philippines : Alvarez pitches federalism to Negrenses.

And they just keep coming in droves.

Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez recently swore in Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo as regional president of the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Laban (PDP-Laban) along with more than 500 other new members of the ruling party in the region.

You have two very important tasks: one is to help the President in his advocacy for federalism, and second, in the campaign of the President against drugs, Alvarez said in remarks before the new party members at the Negros Region Convention Center.

Among the new party members are mayors, councilors and barangay officials from various towns in Negros island.

Alvarez emphasized that a shift to a federal form of government is crucial to spur the socio-economic development of each region or state. He said the present unitary form of government was imposed by foreign colonial powers to allow them to maintain control of the country under a strong central government.

In a federal form of government, the regions or state would retain around 80 percent of the taxes. The regions will be empowered to manage their natural resources and adopt their own development policies, Alvarez said.

We have the right also to create opportunities for our people and we will have the chance to chart our own destinies, he added.

In a federal system, Alvarez said Manila will no longer dictate if a region would prosper or remain poor: We would be the ones to decide whether we would grow or remain poor. But that would depend of course on the officials we would put into office. In a federal system, he explained, each region or state can enact its own laws in accordance with the culture, tradition and belief of the people in the region, which may be different from the other regions.

Alvarez said the Duterte administration offers the best opportunity to shift to a federal form of government.

The House leader said President Duterte has chosen to change the Constitution through Congress acting as constituent assembly, instead of through a constitutional convention, to save funds that could be used for other purposes.

"In a constituent assembly we dont have to spend as much. Besides, the senators and congressmen were also elected into office. We will constitute ourselves into an assembly to revise the present constitution, Alvarez said. Alvarez believes that the proposed draft of the new constitution may be completed and submitted to the people in a plebiscite for ratification by mid-term election in 2019.

If the new Charter is approved by the people, the remainder of the term of President Duterte will be a transition government, with the first election under a federal form of government to take place in 2022.

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Publication:Mena Report
Date:Sep 16, 2016
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