Regionalize or Decentralize?

If our goal is to further decentralize, then why should we “Regionalize”? 

If one googles “What is Federalism?”, Webster defines it as “the distribution of power in an organization (such as a government) between a central authority and the constituent units.”  “Constituent units” refer to sub-national levels of government that are “physically separate (or autonomous) from the item of which it is considered a part.” 

Under our 1987 Constitution, Section 1 of Article X already provides for these constituent units, to wit: “The territorial and political subdivisions of the Republic of the Philippines are the provinces, cities, municipalities, and barangays.”

Under a Federal form of Government, does this mean that Regional States should be created as an additional layer or we need only to strengthen the existing Regional Development Councils (RDCs) to supervise its constituent units or local government units or LGUs? 

Some say that Regional States are necessary in order to supervise the LGUs.  Why? This role is already effectively being done by the President and his alter egos through the concerned Oversight Agencies.  By creating new Regional States, local officials will have another “boss” while they are still accountable to the President and the new Prime Minister as well.  Doesn’t this further lessen the autonomy of LGUs” 

If more Regional States will be created, how much will this cost?  An estimate was given by Dr. Rosario Manasan that Government will need about one-half of the resources to be raised by the TRAIN law, or roughly between P44-P75 Billion depending on how many Regional States.  Most of these funds will only go to personnel services (PS), maintenance and operating expenses (MOOE) and capital outlay (CO) to set up its various Departments and Legislative bodies per Region.  Instead, additional funds should be directly downloaded to LGUs for actual programs and services demanded by our people.

Some argues that Regions are needed so that LGUs can amalgamate or merge to lessen its number.  But if congress created these additional LGUs, then Congress can also lessen its number so that Provinces and highly-urbanized cities can effectively and efficiently manage its respective areas as federal states.  This is the least disruptive and most practical way to go about this transition.

Additional layers of Government will only further delay service delivery.  It will not solve political dynasties, rather, power will merely shift towards the Regions.  If our goal is to further decentralize, then why should we “Regionalize”? 

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About the Author
Sandra Tablan Paredes is presently the Executive Director of the League of Provinces of the Philippines (LPP) since October, 2016 although she previously served LPP as Director from 1997 to 2004 Sandy helped organize ULAP in 1998 with former Governor Joey Lina and advocated for the LGUs' rightful IRA share, among other league advocacies, programs and projects to help local officials ensure local and fiscal autonomy and good governance. Recently served as concurrent interim Executive Director of ULAP from Jan-March 31, 2017. You can email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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