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15 February 2018
Waterfront Manila Pavilion Hotel



Key political leaders from around the country, representing the combined leagues of local government units (LGUs) and locally-elected officials that comprise the membership of the Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines (ULAP), converged at the Waterfront Manila Pavilion Hotel today (15 February 2018) in a concerted effort to push Federalism as the purveyor of genuine local autonomy and catalyst for rural growth.

During the no-holds-barred discussion, it was pointed out that in consonance with the mandate and intent of the Local Government Code of 1991, local government units (LGUs) have always endeavored to bring to fruition their development agenda anchored on three pillars, namely: (a) independent capacity to deliver complete infrastructure and social services; (b) self-reliance founded on fiscal authority that guarantees direct, accurate release of national wealth shares, improved local taxation and debt management, strengthened local financial control, liberalized local utilization, as well as local project execution; and (c) standards for efficient and effective local governance which promotes transparency, inclusivity and accountability.

However, ULAP Vice-Chairperson/Isabela Vice Governor Antonio Albano, National President of the League of Vice-Governors of the Philippines (LVGP), lamented the fact that after more than twenty-five years under the Local Government Code, many LGUs have not posted economic growth, and have largely remained dependent on their meager internal revenue allocation (IRA) to fund their operation, or else on national government support to sustain devolved functions. “We echo the sentiment of President Duterte. We must seize the opportunity presented to us now for the country to come up with a model of governance that will best cater to the interest of public service and, at the same time, provide the impetus for economic growth to the rural areas,” Vice Gov. Albano averred.

In our engagement with the people tasked to draft the new Constitution and shepherd the national transformation into a federal government, Angeles City Mayor Edgardo Pamintuan, National President of the League of Cities of the Philippines (LCP) and ULAP Executive Vice President stressed that in designing the rudiments of Philippine federalism, the framers of the Constitution must listen to the collective sentiment of the component members of ULAP – the local executives who actually have the familiarity with local socio-political dynamics and the first-hand experience in running the government at the grassroots level. He explained that in a nutshell, federalism must address impediments to rural development and provide political empowerment across the entire social spectrum. He further commented that LGUs know what the problems are at the grassroot level. It is now the time that the LGUs rally around the President and support the push for Federalism.

In particular, according to Valenzuela City Councilor Marlon Alejandrino, National President of the National Movement of Young Legislators (NMYL) and ULAP Assistant Treasurer, “we must ensure that the reconfigured geopolitical units will be so empowered as (a) to rationalize the local bureaucracy with full control over implementation of peace and order programs, i.e., against poverty, criminality and illegal drugs/gambling; (b) to tap the full potential of locally-based natural resources and human capital towards charting and achieving a people-centered development agenda; (c) to access mainstream financing and investment facilities as well as international development assistance and partnerships towards comprehensive welfare programs and vibrant local economy.”

“We must end the regime of an overly-centralized government; let us enable the local stakeholders deal with their circumstances and chart their future. Give us the basic wherewithal for a start-up operation, we will show you how to rein in strategic alliances with key sectors and emerge successfully competitive,” quipped Laguna Vice Governor Katherine Agapay, Executive Vice President of the Lady Local Legislators Leagues (4L) and National Treasurer of ULAP. She added that Federalism, if framed from the point of view of local chief executives and from the people of the countryside, will be the key to settling the ethno-cultural conflicts and promoting regional diversity in terms of geographical affinity, cultural temperament or even psycho-social beliefs, among others.

Further, Oriental Mindoro Vice Governor Humerlito Dolor, Chairperson of the League of Vice Governors of the Philippines (LVGP) and ULAP 1st Vice-President for Luzon, said that “five hundred years of unitary government, frustrated over a chronic boom-bust cycle, never a sustained momentum of growth, dictates that we should now gamble with federalism for a better chance for a more decentralized self-rule system which may result to increased efficiency in the bureaucracy; improved delivery of basic services will bring the government closer to the people and enable immediate response to local needs.”

Meanwhile, Batangas Governor Hermilando Mandanas, who is also the LPP Council Adviser, opined that if we are to surmount the stumbling blocks to rural development, it is paramount that LGUs be given greater latitude in terms of project agenda formulation and implementation. Through Federalism, fiscal autonomy provides the LGUs the empowerment to make bold decision and big steps in pursuit of ambitious development programs and projects.

Nueva Ecija Board Member (BM) Atty. Edmund Abesamis, President of the Liga ng mga Barangay (LNB) and ULAP Secretary General, pointed out that there must be a clear division of powers and resources, particularly on who does what and which level of government will do what. This must be enshrined in the new Constitution as this will address the nagging issues on devolution and accountability.

In attendance, among many other local chief executives, were Hadji Panglima Tahim, Sulu Municipal Mayor Abraham Burahan, League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP) Secretary General and ULAP Auditor, Vice-Mayor Emmanuel Antonio Umali, Executive Vice President of the Vice Mayors League of the Philippines (VMLP) and ULAP Assistant PRO, Councilor Danilo Dayanghirang, President of the Philippine Councilors League (PCL) and ULAP PRO, Board Member Lorenzo Zuniga, Executive Vice President of LNB and ULAP Assistant Auditor, Board Member Atty. Enrique Dela Cruz, NMYL Executive Vice President and ULAP Legal Counsel, Board Member Ryan Enriquez, Chairman of the Provincial Board Members League of the Philippines (PBMLP) and ULAP Liaison Officer, and Board Member Ria Farinas, President of PBMLP and ULAP Chairman for Gender and Development.

The local government sector was locked in serious discourse behind closed-doors for about five (5) hours with Members of the Presidential Consultative Committee Arthur Aguilar, a private sector management guru and political analyst, De La Salle University Dean Julio Teehankee, and Professor Edmund Tayao recently designated by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte. Under Executive Order No. 10 issued in December 2016, the Consultative Committee is tasked to review the 1987 Constitution and to recommend revisions including a shift in the form of government.

Other guest-luminaries invited to the event were Leyte Congressman Vicente Veloso, former Justice of the Court of Appeals and now senior Vice Chairperson of the House Committee on Constitutional Amendments that has been conducting a series of public hearings on a version of a new Constitution for a Federal Republic as contained under Resolution of Both Houses (RBH) No. 08.

Assistant Secretary Jonathan E. Malaya of the Department of the Interior and Local Government who gave a focused presentation of the provisions in the base draft prepared by PDP Federalism Institute that impact on LGUs.

Highlights of the Open Forum include the significance of Federalism in (1) strengthening the capacity of local government units, particularly the Provinces, to attract investments; (2) espousing minorities’ right to self-rule which can only be given to sovereign states in a federal setup of government; (2) decentralization of powers to better address multitude of pressing problems including secessionist movement of the Muslims in Mindanao, the communist rebellion, worsening poverty, reign of political dynasties, proliferation of corruption, among others.

After this event, ULAP will conduct further consultations with the different leagues to address remaining issues and draft a set of consensus inputs for the consideration of the Constitutional Committee. Our collective position should represent the agreed inputs of all component members.



(Usec.) Bernardino E. Sayo, ULAP Executive Director
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