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Jun 28th
Home Columns Sen. Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. Delay in Adopting Federal System Hurts Underdeveloped Regions
Delay in Adopting Federal System Hurts Underdeveloped Regions PDF Print E-mail
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Columns - This Week With Nene Pimentel
Tuesday, 16 September 2008 01:46

Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today said the efforts of certain politicians to further delay the move in Congress to amend the Constitution and to federalize the country will only a perpetuate an over-centralized system of government that has stunted the economic development of the nation and deprived the people, particularly in the far-flung and neglected regions, of the opportunities to uplift their living conditions.

He said the fear that amendatory process may be taken advantage by the powerful political leaders to keep themselves in power beyond their constitutional term may be valid concern but should not discourage Congress from pushing ahead with the initiative to revise the fundamental law and adopt a federal system of government in response to public clamor.


“As elected representatives of the people, we, the members of Congress should assert our independence by thwarting proposals that will only promote the selfish interests of a privileged few,” he said.


He said the framers of the Federal Constitution should resist any pressure to lift the term limits on the presidency and other elective government positions because that will be anathema to the people.


Senator Pimentel maintained that Congress, acting as a Constituent Assembly, as proposed under Joint Resolution 10, can start revising the Constitution as soon as possible but since this is a long process,  the shift to federalism and other amendments that may be approved, are likely to take effect after 2010.


He said there is no basis for the fear that the 2010 presidential elections may be scrapped because Resolution 10 does not contemplate on abolishing the presidential system and of replacing it with a parliamentary system.


The senator from Mindanao said the misuse and mal-distribution of the economic wealth of the nation can be attributed in many ways to the existing unitary system which is characterized by the virtual monopoly of power by the so-called “Imperial Manila.”


“Hardly anything that is of far-reaching developmental importance moves in this country without the central government having a fundamental say over it. Hence, the over-centralization of government powers in the national government has stymied the economic development of the nation,” Senator Pimentel said.


He said the over-centralization of government has resulted in selective modernization of favored areas to the detriment of the rest of the nation.


For instance, Senator Pimentel cited the need for more domestic or international airports or seaports in the Visayas and Mindanao. But he said they will not be constructed unless the central government authorizes the whole thing.


“The Central Government has to do the plans, provide the funding, send engineers and designate the contractors. And so, more often than not, we won’t see those facilities built in our lifetime,” he said.


Senator Pimentel said that the leaders and people of Mindanao have been clamoring for the construction of a railway system in the island for decades.


“It will remain a dream unless the central government does everything that is needed to get it done from A to Z. Until now, the plan has not gone beyond the blueprint stage,” he said.  # # #

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