Federalization gets Palace and Congress' support
By Renee F. De Guzman
San Fernando City, La Union (13 August) -- A new bid to revise the Constitution and pave the way for the adoption of a Federal System of government is getting support both in Malacaņang and Congress.
La Union Representative Victor F. Ortega, Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Constitutional Amendments said, that a majority of his colleagues in the House are supportive of the new move to amend the Constitution as indicated in an informal survey his committee conducted among the House members.
Ortega said that in the survey, 115 lawmakers voted "yes" to charter change while eight rejected the idea. As to the mode of revising the Constitution, 61 were for Constituent Assembly; 49 for Constitutional Convention and five for People's Initiative.
On the form of government, 56 were in favor of a federal system of government and 54 were against.
A parliamentary form of government had 89 supporters, with 29 rejecting.
In a related move, President Arroyo yesterday endorsed a joint resolution in the Senate that calls for the creation of 11 federal states and convert the nation into the Federal Republic of the Philippines.
The President expressed support for the shift to a federal form of government to spur development in the entire country and facilitate lasting peace in Mindanao, said Press Secretary Jesus Dureza.
The Senate Joint Resolution No. 10, principally authored by Senate Minority Floor Leader Aquilino Pimentel Jr., proposes the convening of Congress into a Constituent Assembly to initiate amendments to the Constitution, particularly the establishment of a federal system of government.
At least 16 senators including Senate President Manuel Villar Jr., Senate Pro-Tempore Jinggoy Estrada and Majority Floor Leader Francis Pangilinan have signed the resolution that seeks to replace the current unitary system of government.
The joint resolution seeks the creation of federal states of Northern Luzon; State of Central Luzon; State of Southern Tagalog; State of Bicol; State of Mimparom (Mindoro, Palawan, Romblon); State of Eastern Visayas; State of Central Visayas; State of Western Visayas; State of Southern Mindanao; and State of Bangsamoro.
The 11 states are in addition to the country's only one center of finance and development in Metro Manila which shall be constituted as the Federal Administrative Region.
The 11 federal states would elect six senators each, apart from nine senators representing overseas Filipino workers, bringing the total number to 75.
The resolution also recommends that members of the House of Representatives be elected by district but limited to a maximum of 350 seats.
The administration expects that their allies in the House of Representatives will file a similar resolution seeking a shift to federalism. (PIA La Union) [top]