Federalism debate kicks off in Cebu
Cebu City (14 February) -- As the academic discussion on Federalism in Cebu kicked off in a government-initiated forum, government and private officials cry in unison that changing the present system of government from Presidential to Federalism will spur more economic growth and promote responsible and effective leadership among local government units (LGUs).
In the weekly Kapihan sa PIA held yesterday morning at Club Ultima in Cebu City, Regional Development Council (RDC) Committee Chair on Development Advocacy Ricky Poca bared that it is high time for the National Government to start devolving their powers and resources to the LGUs which can be done under a Federalism structure.
Poca, a media personality and a political science professor in one of Cebu's prestigious universities, said the essence under a state of Federalism is that there will be less intervention from the National Government in terms of policies, decision making and implementation of projects and programs giving more autonomy to LGUs to decide on what is economically, politically and socially best suited for their areas.
Under the current political system, the policies, decision-making and approval of macro projects as well as implementing these projects are highly centralized, Poca disclosed and cited the 12th Asean Summit as an example where approval of related projects came from Manila while Cebu only acted as the host venue, according to Poca.
Federalism encourages LGUs to be more independent and innovative in developing their areas that basically address the needs and peculiarities of each region, Poca declared.
Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) vice president for external affairs Teodoro Locson agreed Federalism will be good for business although any ordinary businessman will thrive under any form of government.
Locson said a new Federalism set-up will provide more opportunities for businessmen to scout for ideal investment sites in the country where local policies are friendlier to investors.
National Youth Commission (NYC) Commissioner Michael Lopez in the same forum, pointed out the necessity of the youth sector to be made aware of the issue and be involved in the political process being the future leaders of this country.
Lopez admitted that four out of 10 Filipino youths are apathetic to the political happenings of the state while Federalism ensures the active participation and involvement of the youth as youth-related issues and concerns are now addressed locally under a Federal system.
National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA-7) Efren Carreon likewise said a Federalism structure gives an opportunity for LGUs to be more efficient in the delivery of basic and social services as they will now be made accountable to their constituents in the use of tax money.
Amid suspicions that the forum initiated by the Philippine Information Agency (PIA-7) is aimed at espousing charter change in the hope of extending the term of the President, Poca began his piece by correcting the impression and insinuations that the forum is politically-motivated.
"We want to erase doubts that this forum is politically-motivated. We are not proposing charter change to extend the term of the President but rather, this is purely an academic discussion on the issue. We want people to be aware and be involved in order to come up with a better system of government," Poca stressed.
PIA-7 officer-in-charge Minerva Newman said the forum is initiated to hike awareness on the issue by providing a venue to discuss about it.
As to the timing of conducting the forum amid the latest scandal on the NBN issue, Newman emphasized that it is just unfortunate that the forum is being tainted with a political color as this has already been part of the schedule in the regular PIA forum.
Poca expressed hopes that the discussion on Federalism will not stop with the Kapihan forum as he plans to organize further discussions about the issue with concerned government agencies, non-government organizations, people's organizations and other interested groups. The RDC has received a memorandum last year to start on the debates regarding the shift to Federalism.
Increasing the public's consciousness on Federalism is also stipulated under the Medium Term Philippine Development Plan, according to the NEDA-7. (PIA-Cebu/FCR) [top]