SEPTEMBER 15, 2016 — Deputy Speaker Fredenil Castro today took strong exception to Senator Ralph Recto’s description of federalism and urged the senator to study the issue more carefully to avoid unfounded conclusions.
Castro said the Duterte administration’s proposal to shift to a federal system of government from the present unitary set-up is “founded on the idea of giving the various States under the system better control of their economic resources and empowering them to chart their own development and their own future.”
Castro, who represents the 2nd District of Capiz in Congress, said Recto’s fear that President Duterte could use federalism to prolong his stay in office is “misplaced and outright malicious.”
“I distinctly remember that even before he formally assumed office, President Duterte said that once the 1987 Constitution has been revised and the shift from a unitary to a federal system of government is already assured, then he is willing to give up his position to whoever is qualified,” Castro said.
“That, to me, speaks volumes about President Duterte’s sincerity in wanting to effect genuine political reforms in the country, and to give way to anyone who might be in a better position to implement urgently and far-reaching reforms,” he added.
Turning the tables on the senator, Castro said: “I must ask the good senator: Is he perhaps entertaining the idea of running for the highest elective office under the same unitary form of government and federalism would be a big obstacle to his political ambition?”
House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez had earlier said the problems faced by the country, from corruption to drugs to poverty, had been spawned by the unitary form of government.
While there is no guarantee that federalism will solve all these problems, he said, it offers “big hope… I am really convinced that the federal form of government will be the lasting solution to poverty, to insurgency.”
Deputy Speaker Castro averred that he fully supports the federalism proposal espoused by President Duterte and other leaders as he believes this will create no less than 13 centers of power, finance and development throughout the country, instead of power and resources being concentrated in Metro Manila.
“The federal system is envisioned to result in the accelerated development of the entire country by unleashing the economic potentials of the various regions and by dissipating the causes of rebellion in the country, particularly in Mindanao,” Castro said.