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Business backs moves toward federalism

By: - Reporter / @amyremoINQ
/ 12:28 AM July 29, 2016

Businessmen have expressed support for the new administration’s move toward a federal system of government, but they were concerned about the possibility of political dynasties strengthening their hold on their respective bailiwicks under this structure.

Management Association of the Philippines president Perry Pe said his group “should be able to support this as it’s really a process of devolution, or devolving all the powers of the central government into regions or states—a move that is timely and practical.”

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“In a nutshell, what (House Speaker Pantaleon D. Alvarez) described looked impressive. We will have 11 or 12 federal states crafting their own taxation laws, their own revenue-making (measures) and whatever system they want to use to attract more foreign direct investments to their respective federal states. He also mentioned that he wanted to revive the two party system in a federal system which will be a good thing for us,” Pe explained.

Alvarez was the keynote speaker in MAP’s general membership meeting Thursday, during which the lawmaker cited the advantages of shifting from the current unitary-presidential system to a federal-parliamentary structure with a president directly elected by the people.

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“Structural change is necessary to attain the following: end intergenerational conflict, (boost) economic growth and expand opportunities for all Filipinos… Through the adoption of a federal system of government, the division of national and state powers will be clearly delineated. The national government can focus on national concerns like defense, foreign policy, national police and monetary policies. The states can focus on local concerns by empowering them to adopt tailor-fit solutions to their unique local problems,” Alvarez explained.

The target was for the proposed federal system to be in place when the country votes for its next President in 2022.

In the meantime, business consultant and Inquirer columnist Peter Wallace said the federal system was most suited to the Philippines as the country had “too much Manila-centric government running things.”

“One of the things that bothers me most is that agriculture has suffered badly in the last 20 years. The focus hasn’t been there. Give autonomy to the local regions and they’ll give more attention to people in their areas. But I think the biggest thing you should watch for is dynasties and political warlords taking control. We need some way (to make sure) that doesn’t happen,” Wallace said.

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