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Bacolod City, Philippines Saturday, February 17, 2018
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Lobby urged for
1-Negros federal state

The lone Negrenseon the 19-member committee created by President Rodrigo Duterteto review the 1987 Constitution yesterday said he will work hard to ensure that Negros Occidental and Oriental remain under one state in the country's shift towards federalism.

Arthur Aguilar said it is important that Negrenses from all sectors make their positions heard on the two Negros provinces staying together under one state. They should lobby for what they believe is best, he said.

He said the draft proposal submitted by the PDP Laban retains the old regional structures in the composition of the regional states, although this is without prejudice to reconfiguration. This means that, under that proposal, Negros Occidental will remain under the federal state of Western Visayas and Negros Oriental under the Central Visayas federal state, Aguilar said.

But both Aquilar and Rep. Alfredo Abelardo Benitez (Neg. Occ., 3 rd District), who met yesterday, also noted that there are several other proposals on how to implement federalism.

Benitez said one such proposal is, instead of lumping several provinces together to create a federal state, individual provinces be instead granted greater autonomy and a bigger share of the national budget.

Among such proposals is that of the League of Provinces of the Philippines that wants the country's 81 existing provinces to be converted into “independent states.”

The original proposal was for combining provinces into 5 to 13 states under a federal Philippines.

“We strongly advocate status quo, wherein all 81 provinces should remain as the autonomous sub-national level or independent ‘states' under the general supervision of the duly-elected president of the federal government,” the LPP said in a resolution.

Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque, who was in Bacolod City yesterday for a gathering of the Vice Mayors League of Region IV-A, noted that the LPP is proposing that the provinces get 60 percent of the Internal Revenue Allotment and be able to impose local taxes.

But he noted that there are several proposals that will be deliberated on.

Aguilar said he will be soliciting the views of the people in Negros Occidental and Oriental on the proposals for federalism.

Local Government Assistant Secretary and PDP-Laban Federalism Institute Executive Director Jonathan Malaya said the PDP Laban draft proposal on federalism is based on the template of former Senator Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel that adopts the existing regions as federal states, Aguilar said.

Malaya has, however, said this is without prejudice to reconfiguration, Aguilar added.

Aguilar said he will workvery hard so the two Negros provinces canstay together in his personal capacity.

Negros has a self-contained economy and its renewable energy can power the entire Visayas, he pointed out.*CPG



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