STA. CATALINA, Ilocos Sur – “Federalism means the devolution of power, giving more authority to the local officials in managing their affairs.”
This was how Hugpong Federal Movement of the Philippines (HFMP) convenor Enrie Mendoza described in a capsule the meaning of federalism at the start of the nationwide Federalism Information Drive at the Sta. Catalina ABC Hall, April 27.
“In our present government form, 80% of our taxes go to the national treasury and only 20% return, but in federalism, it’s the other way around – eighty percent remains and 20 percent goes to the national government,” he said.
Getting the go signal from President Rodrigo Duterte, Mendoza said he is optimistic the people will approve the shifting of government form if the proposed date of referendum by July will push through.
“In federalism, we will get the greater slice of the cake and the power to rule and decide for ourselves. In our usual setup where only 20% returns, tedtedto laengen ti dumanon kadagiti buistayo nga agsubli!” (only a very little portion of our taxes returns), he said.
HFMP Regional Director Francis Domingo spoke about the plight of Mindanao, saying that 40% of the source of national economy comes from Mindanao, yet only 20% returns that’s why Mindanao is already behind in terms of progress and prosperity.
“With federalism, we will be able to solve the Mindanao problems. Moreover, we will benefit more from what we contribute because 60 to 80% will return to our regional states for our own benefits,” he emphasized.
He also said that there is a proposal that 18 federal states will be created where each regional state will be headed by a regional governor.
Answering a question during the open forum that federalism might escalate the country’s current problem on political dynasty, he said that the greater contributors to national progress are the people.
“Change in the people makes a good Philippines. It’s in the attitude of the people that is the greater factor in making our country prosperous,” he said.
Regarding the fate of the Muslim regions in Mindanao, he said that they will be guided by the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).
“Depending upon the provisions of the BBL, the status of Mindanao is still under study. It’s up to our leaders to jibe federalism with the BBL so that our Filipino brothers there can get the best of it,” he said.
Municipal officials headed by Mayor Rapanut, barangay officials, civic leaders and the media attended the forum. (EDWARD B. ANTONIO)