By Miriam Garcia Desacada, August 22 2018; Philstar.com (The Freeman)
Image Credit to Inquirer.net
TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines — With the wide, rich natural resources in Eastern Visayas, a change in the government’s form of government into federalism can fix the turtle-paced development in the entire region
This was the declaration of retired Associate Justice Eduardo Antonio Nachura, a member of the Consultative Committee (ConCom), tasked to draft the federal constitution, during the media forum in Tacloban City, as part of the continuing federalism roadshow nationwide.
“With the wide fishing ground in Eastern Visayas, so as other mineral resources and tourism, we (Region 8) can focus on our development here, under the federal form of government,” Nachura told the audience.
Nachura said the ball is now rolling at President Rodrigo Duterte on how he will now convince the House and the Senate to urgently act on this, after the ConCom formally submitted the proposed draft, Bayanihan Federalism, to the Office of the President.
“This is a very urgent matter considering the very short remaining period of time before the midterm 2019 elections,” Nachura said.
On the other hand, Assistant Secretary Jonathan Malaya of the Department of Interior and Local Government said he is hopeful that, when power is brought to the region, under the federal form of government, “the region will gain enough foothold to streamline development projects and programs to benefit the Eastern Visayas economy.”
Record shows that Eastern Visayas posted its fastest growth of 12.4 percent in 2016. This however, reversed in 2017 when its gross regional domestic products (GRDP) slumped to 1.8 percent, far below its 5.2 to 5.7 target range, as indicated in Region 8’s Regional Development Plan for 2017-2022.
It was similarly noted that tourism is also an area that Eastern Visayas can focus on. In 2015, for example, more than a million tourists set foot in the provinces of Leyte, Southern Leyte, Samar, Northern Samar, Eastern Samar and Biliran, garnering earning of at least P9 billion.
“This is a potential that the region can harness. It is only a matter of how and where the funding will come from,” Malaya added.
Under Article 7, Section 2 of the Consultative Committee’s draft Bayanihan Federalism model, the federated regions has exclusive power over infrastructure, tourism, investment, and socio- economic development planning.
With increased power and revenue share, the federated region of Eastern Visayas will be able to bring the area to prosperity under the federal set-up, said Malaya.
He said that Eastern Visayas is a promising region, especially on agriculture and tourism. “So there is a lot of opportunities awaiting the region when federalized,” he added.
After the forum, a rally for federalism was also held at the Leyte Academic Center in Tacloban City.