By J.A. Carizo

On the automatic release of IRA and share of the autonomous regions. By law, it is mandated but if you will review the LGC (RA 7160) and the Administrative Code of the Philippines (EO 292), there are a number of loopholes and it takes more than amending these laws like overhauling the Constitution. For example, it is still the central government that dictates the LGUs (through budget circulars, administrative and executive orders) up to what percent should be allocated to specific items. Emergency funds and gender and advocacy budgets for instance, are dictated to be at 5% of the LGU’s annual budget, or that budget on personnel should not exceed 55% of the total budget. Though by intent the same can be considered as a check to local officials who might overspend on staffing (for election purposes, of course), but that is unfair for good government officials who knows the real score on their areas of jurisdiction. In Albay, for instance, a 5% emergency fund is not enough as apart from Mayon Volcano there is also this 20 typhoons or so that pass by Bicol.

1. State operations yet to be drawn. Correct but if you will review Resolution No. 10 of Pimentel, the principles are already there only that they need to be polished. At this point, polishing such concepts need our cooperation.

And we need not abolish the cities, municipalities, provinces and even the barangays. That is also included not only in Pimentel’s proposal but also in other proposals. What we’ll gonna do is enhance their powers so that “they who collect the taxes shall have the prime share and not just the left-overs.” And, of course, they who are at the grassroots shall have the autonomy to design the development they wanted to have and not just wait for the plans from the top. Case in point – the Calabarzon. The area is primarily an agricultural country but what happened? More and more are becoming displaced having no skills to work in the factories. Another case in point: Rapu-rapu in Albay. Many thought the municipality, sitting atop coal and gold, will become richer and economically advanced. But in studies that have been conducted, the IRA of the LGU did not increase and the residents are still as jobless as before. Why? Because the nat’l government declared it an economic zone without due consultation with the residents. As a result, the venture was tax free and because there was no consultation, the residents were not trained or taught new skills so they were not hired. Even the provincial government did not get anything… except perhaps some officials who allegedly received bribes for the continuing operations of the Lafayette mining.

2. Rebellion and inter-tribal and religious rivalry. Maybe if we follow the present government’s prescription like redrawing the territories, that would happen. The present advocacy is to retain the existing subdivisions and ensure peaceful coexistence between religious, ethno-linguistic and other socio-cultural groupings. (RA 8371 is outside the picture as each state, being autonomous, shall resolve the issues on IPs and ancestral lands. Besides, we cannot at all times prescribe a sweeping law for cases that may appear similar but in fact differs as we go to the micro or individual level.) Second, if we study the war in Mindanao, we will find that it has basically religious undertones. Like Christians, Muslims also think that they are also children of God/Allah so why have a non-Muslim rule or dictate over them just like what Malacanang in Manila is doing? (Well, how many Muslims have become Philippine president?). So with Federalism, that gives them a chance to be at par with Christians first by giving them a chance to sit in States, and later, perhaps, in the national government.

Federalism is not the fast solution, though. But can we say that unitary system is a solution after a century of experience with it? Not even the creation of autonomous regions did answer the issue for Malacanang is also playing a hand on who to field and get elected in the autonomous regions. Greed is one of the reasons, of course, and more than this is the lack of a genuine political party law.

3. On the idea of revolution. I think we both agree with that. Federalism in itself is a revolution. 🙂

But apart from federalism, I am studying the case of Spain. It has a proto-federalist system (in-between unitary and federal systems). Some says it’s working fine as it is getting the best of both the unitary and federal systems. I don’t know how that can be applied in the Phils.