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Bacolod City, Philippines Tuesday, February 27, 2018
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Aranas: Drive vs. federalism won’t succeed


The Consultative Committee created by President Rodrigo Duterte to review the 1987 Constitution will vote on what form of federal government to propose today, Art Aguilar, the lone Negrense Con-com member, said yesterday.

We will vote on three possible forms of federal government - presidential, parliamentary, or presidential-parliamentary, he said.

“Our vote will have to be explained individually,” Aguilar said, adding that he will go for the presidential-parliamentary form.

He said the choice of the form of government is needed so they can be guided on what to do with other provisions thereafter.

Aguilar would not comment on the creation of a broad coalition of Negros groups to oppose charter change and a shift towards a federal form of government.

“They will not succeed against federalism, it is the yearning of many,” Jesus Clint Aranas, Government Service Insurance System president and general manager, and Partido Demokratiko Pilipino–Lakas ng Bayan Negros Occidental president, said.

Rep. Alfredo Abelardo Benitez (Neg. Occ., 3 rd District) said it was premature to oppose cha-cha without seeing the full proposal.

Those opposing cha-cha can always vote against it in a plebiscite, he added.

Former Negros Occidental Gov. Rafael Coscolluela, a member of the Negros broad coalition opposed to cha-cha now, said proposed revisions are loaded with booby traps, self-serving provisions that serve limited political and economic interests.

“Its worst aspect is a long ‘transitory period’ that would grant excessive power and control in the hands of a virtual constitutional autocracy and local political dynasties or monoliths,” he said.

Coscolluela said he used to be enamored with the idealistic view of federalism.

“Perhaps in the future, when we have a strong civil society accompanied by a strong sense of citizenship and nationhood, stable and effective institutions, including a genuine party system, an anti-dynasty enabling law, truly empowered and accountable local governments and a vibrant, well-dispersed economic base, maybe we can begin the process of federalization,” Coscolluela said.

The shift to federalism is estimated to cost the government an additional P44 to 72 billion per year, and many years of fixing, to reorganize into working bureaucracies at federal, state and local levels, he said.

There is therefore no need to rush if other, more practicable and less fractious measures are taken in the meantime to address the country’s real problems, Coscolluela said.*CPG


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