Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III today said the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino Lakas ng Bayan (PDP Laban) wanted to adopt a uniquely Filipino federalism model with two constitutionally established orders of government.
These are the federal government and the regional governments that would have some genuine autonomy from each other where each level of government is primarily accountable to its respective electorate, he said.
“They have some genuine autonomy but not independence,” said Pimentel of the model that would have one constitution, flag, national anthem, foreign policy, armed forces, national police force, public education system, central bank and monetary system.
He said the foundational ideas of the PDP Laban model have been provided by the champions of federalism, led by party founder former Senate President Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel Jr. and party chairman President Rodrigo Duterte himself.
The PDP Laban, he said, studied 25 years of devolution under the Local Government Code, 20 years of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao and picked on the experiences of the United States, Germany, France, Russia, China, India, Indonesia, Brazil, Australia, Canada, Argentina, Malaysia, Japan, Africa, and many others.
“What we propose is a model that draws lessons from these countries and customized to our needs and circumstances. A uniquely Filipino federalism model,” said Pimentel.
Each level of government in the proposed model would have a particular jurisdiction – areas of public policy in which it alone has the final authority, unless it decides to share this jurisdiction with the other, he added.
The PDP Laban, he pointed out, wanted to create a more economically and politically effective administrative structure based on eleven regions, each with its own regional governments.
These are the regional governments of Northern Luzon (Regions 1, 2 and CAR), Metro Manila (National Capital Region), Southern Tagalog (Region 4-A), Bicol (Region 5), Mindoro-Romblon-Marinduque (Region 4-B), Western Visayas (Region 6), Central Eastern Visayas (Regions 7 and 8), Northern Mindanao (Regions 9, 10 and CARAGA), Southern Mindanao (Region 11 and 12) and the Bangsa Moro (ARMM).
The regional governments, with their own regional unicameral assemblies, will be headed by a regional governor directly elected by the people in the region. He will have powers of supervision over provincial, city, and municipal executives, said Pimentel.
He said that in the division of powers, matters that concern the entire nation belong to the federal government while basic services to the people would be handled by the regional governments.
“If the matter is a basic service which is best provided under a national standard, then it should be a shared power between the federal and regional levels,” Pimentel said.
All residual or unclassified powers will be retained by the federal government but may also be delegated to the regional governments, he added.
“We will pursue the principle that the budget will follow the division of powers,” said Pimentel, pointing out that at present 83 percent of the total government expenditures are controlled by the national government and only 17 percent by the local governments.
This will change in favor of the regional governments, he said, saying 60 percent would be controlled by the regional governments and only 40 percent by the federal government.
Being responsible for the nation as a whole, Pimentel said the federal government would handle national defense, national security, foreign policy, currency, banking and monetary policy, national taxation, customs and international trade.
The regional governments would take care of regional planning, land and water use and development, investment policy, local governments’ organization and general supervision, housing, water supply, sanitation and sewage;
waste management; energy development and transmission within its territory, fire protection, road development, traffic management, irrigation, health and education infrastructure construction and maintenance, protection of environment; sustainable productivity in agriculture fisheries and aquaculture, flood control, communications (licensing/regulation of cable TV/radio stations), regional transportation networks, tourism promotion and development and ancestral domains of indigenous peoples.
Shared powers, he said, would include taxation, eminent domain, maintenance of law and order, administration of justice, education curriculum and standards, energy, sustainable use and management of natural resources, labor relations, benefits and standards; health policy and standards, price controls and product standards, agriculture, fisheries, and veterinary quarantine standards, population standards monitoring and enforcement, social welfare and development, agriculture and food security, sports development; disaster risk reduction and management, relief and rehabilitation, human rights, strategic transportation (airports, seaports, railways, highways, shipping lanes), communications networks, transportation infrastructure, traffic control and safety, and food and drug safety administration. (Press release from the Senate of the Philippines)