BORONGAN CITY, February 18, 2018–“We don’t need a federal system to institute reforms in government. There are provisions in the system that will address political and economic imbalance in the country.”
This was said by Atty Ronald Mendoza, Dean of the Ateneo School of Government, during a forum on charter change and federalism organized by the Eastern Samar Peace and Development Forum.
Mendoza said that one of these provisions is the Local Government Code, which gives local government units substantial spending, taxing and borrowing powers.
But, according to him, decentralization has not really been completed because LGU’s share in the national treasure is not enough and local officials still have to ask for funds from the national government. Had the code been implemented well, it would have eventually led to a federal system of government.
He said that with the ongoing talks by government leaders on the possible shift to federalism and charter change, people should be vigilant and participate in the process.
Dean Mendoza stressed that he is not against federalism, but it should be with the “character of a pro inclusive democracy”.
But he added that “for federalism to succeed, the issue of political dynasty must be addressed”. Based on their study, poverty is deeper in provinces and towns where there are political clans.
While the constitution bans political dynasties, congress still needs to pass an enabling law for it to be enforced.
For his part, Borongan Bishop Crispin Varquez said that “now is not yet the time to change the constitution and shift to federalism. We have to wait for leaders who are willing to sacrifice for the Filipinos and not those with personal interests.”
Mendoza said that it is important for people to know what constitutional provisions will be changed.
He urged them to think if the changes will address the malfunctions in government, and if the process is right, transparent and participatory. (Eden Cidro/Este News)