President Rodrigo Duterte said during the Indigenous Peoples Leaders’ Summit at the Naval Station in Panacan, Davao City last February 1, 2018 that: “If you do not like federalism through and through, let’s have a hybrid form like that of Hong Kong and China.”
The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) is still an inalienable part of the People’s Republic of China while still upholding national unity and territorial integrity, taking account of its history and realities.
Similarly, perhaps Congress can prioritize the Bangsamoro Basic Law or BBL for the creation of the Bangsamoro Administrative Region (BAR) in response to the persistent clamor of our people within the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) to finally resolve the long-standing peace and order situation in order to fast-track progress and development in the said Region. However, with regard to the other Regions of the country, the League of Provinces still maintains its strong opposition to the creation of new Regional States
Under the PDP Laban proposal, the Regional Governor will have general powers of supervision over provincial, city and municipal executives. Hence, Regionalization will in effect only undermine the power of Provinces, with respect to its component cities and municipalities, as well as the power of cities and municipalities over its barangays. Regional States will have the power of taxation, thus emasculating the taxing power of Provinces, cities and municipalities to raise local revenues. Hence it will only further weaken LGUs’ fiscal autonomy.
Under the principle of subsidiarity, this tenet holds that “nothing should be done by a larger and more complex organization such as the national or regional governments, which can be done as well by a smaller and simpler organization, in this case, the local government units. Any activity which can be performed by a more decentralized entity should be in contrast to regionalization and centralization. To regionalize will only run counter to the over-all clamor of LGUs for a genuine decentralization to enable them to immediately respond to the urgent needs and effectively upgrade its basic services demanded by its constituents.
If President Duterte is amenable to a hybrid or asymetric1 type of federalism, hopefully the Consultative Committee tasked to recommend amendments to the Constitution will seriously reconsider to forego the creation of new Regional States in the meantime, except for the Bangsamoro Region and strengthen the supervisory powers of provinces and cities.
The priority programs and projects of our existing Regional Development Councils (RDCs) should be funded in the GAA to fulfill its Constitutionally-guaranteed mandate to ensure the administrative decentralization to strengthen the autonomy of the units therein and to accelerate the economic and social growth and development of the units in the region.
1Asymmetric federalism - a federation or confederation in which different constituent states possess different powers: one or more of the states has considerably more autonomy than the other substates, although they have the same constitutional status. The division of powers between substates is not symmetric. This is in contrast to symmetric federalism, where no distinction is made between constituent states. As a result, it is frequently proposed as a solution to the dissatisfactions that arise when one or two constituent units feel significantly different needs from the others, as the result of an ethnic, linguistic or cultural difference.
The difference between an asymmetric federation and federacy is indistinct; a federacy is essentially an extreme case of an asymmetric federation, either due to large differences in the level of autonomy, or the rigidity of the constitutional arrangements. An asymmetric federation, however, has to have a federal constitution, and all states in federation have the same formal status ("state"), while in a federacy independent sub-state has a different status ("autonomous region")
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