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Federalism?

 

By ERIK ESPINA

 

 

I SALUTE President Rodrigo Duterte for acting like a true father to his cabinet and to the nation. It will be recalled two of his officials did not mince words before a Senate hearing on their observations regarding the possible results of the Philippines shifting to Federalism. Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez, when further pressed by Senator Franklin Drilon, retorted, he would vote in the negative regarding the proposed form of government. Under a dissimilar presidency, such divergence of view from a priority program would have been settled with a “courtesy resignation”. The Palace is holding fast and true, respecting the personal opinions of what should be expert views on the financial impact on the country if in case we bite the bullet and become federated states. This is despite a call from one ‘Constitutional Commissioner’ attempting to corner the president into firing both officials to determine his conviction? Claiming the whole federalism exercise was just for show?

To be fair, no less than President Duterte in one of his provincial sorties, publicly stated entrusting the issue of federalism to the people. In case they rejected it, then that is the verdict on the matter. The words of Presidential Legal Adviser Secretary Sal Panelo rings in my ear. “The President is a strategic thinker”. Since the early months of this Administration, I attempted to read the body language and the “environment” of the president to get a better handle on future events. On federalism, the president is bulls-eye on allowing the widest latitude for inquisitive discourse. Is it true the 42,044 Barangay Chairman and respective Kagawads deleted from the Con-Coms federalism? Half of the current governors will lose their positions? The Judicial & Bar Council expanded to Judicial Appointments and Disciplinary Council? A single Supreme Court to four? Fifteen Justices up by 42? Congress of 250 (P11B 177M peso budget) increased to 400? A Senate of 24 (P5B 827M peso budget) to 36 senators? And what of the “pork barrels”, P70M pesos for each Congressman and P200M for each senator? Increased/double taxation (Federal & State)? Etc.

 

 

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