A sub-committee of the Consultative Committee (Concom) tasked by President Rodrigo R. Duterte to review the 1987 Constitution has voted and adopted the term “federated regions” in the new Constitution it is drafting under a federal-presidential system.
Professor Edmund Tayao, chairman of Concom sub-committee on the creation and structure of the sub-national governments, said that his committee made the decision noting that most of its members had reservations on using the terms “sub-national governments” or “states.”
“There was some reservation with calling it sub-national governments because at least in the sense of many of our lawyers, it still suggests that it is still substantially inferior to or subject to the decisions of the national government. The idea really is to emphasize decentralization and autonomy, hence the need to reconfigure a different nomenclature,” Tayao said in a press briefing at the PICC.
Tayao, on the other hand, explained that the term “state” may not fit the current Philippine situation.
“When we say ‘state’, it immediately suggests a political entity that enjoys or is endowed with sovereignty. Of course that doesn’t apply to us,” he added.
He further explained that the term “federated regions” emphasizes that they are not the same as current regions, which are not political units and do not exercise powers.
Tayao said the viability and sustainability of the federated regions are vital, which also means that they should be In a good position to off economically, Tayao said.
However, Tayao said that the sub-committee has yet to decide on the number of federated regions to be proposed as it is still subject to deliberation.
“There are numbers that we are already considering but the most that I can give you is that numbers would be based not only on population, land, area, and income. We have to look into other endowments like natural resources, ethno-cultural social factors, like even including political handling meaning whether or not there is a sense in putting them together. At the end of the day you have to factor in so many considerations,” Tayao said.
Tayao, however, said that the sub-committee is considering several options for the number of federated regions or even the possibility of keeping the existing number of regions at 17.
“Let’s just say that the prevailing models now start with five federated regions, there are eight federated regions, 10, 12 and there’s also the existing regions now which is 17,” Tayao said.
He said that from an economic viewpoint, it would make sense if there were “lesser” federated regions but there were other factors to consider.
“If we talk about economics, the lesser the better. But even if you have a big federated region, if you consider political, social, cultural factors, it might not work,” Tayao said.
”There are some local governments or provinces that while they speak the same language are not necessarily welcoming to be part of one federated region,” he added.
Concom Senior Technical Assistant and spokesperson Ding Generoso said that the objective is to make federated regions start on “almost equal footing.”
“We want to find some kind of equilibrium where more or less our federated regions would start on equal footing, every federated region will more or less have similar capability to take off economically based on population, land area, productivity of their workforce, and other indicators,” Generoso said. (PNA)