By Chino S. Leyco, September 2 2018; Manila Bulletin


Image Credit to Inquirer.net

The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) is not amenable to the 15-year transition period being proposed by the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) for the country’s shift into a federal system of government.

Budget Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno said the 15-year transition period proposal of the NEDA is “too long” and that the change in the form of government should happen within the term of President Rodrigo R. Duterte.

“I disagree with that,” Diokno told reporters late Friday when asked if the DBM supports NEDA’s proposal. “Kapag ganoon hindi na mangyayari yun, si Presidente lang naman ang hot sa federalism (If we do, that [federalism] will never happen, only President [Duterte] is hot on federalism).”

According to Diokno, a three-year transition to a federal system is enough provided that the provisions under the new Constitution are “well defined” to avoid conflicting interpretations in courts.

“This is not our stand,” Diokno said when asked if the entire economic team of the Duterte administration supports NEDA’s proposal, but maintained that “Fifteen years is too long to have a change in government.”

Last Friday, NEDA disclosed its proposed five-phase plan in implementing the Duterte administration’s shift to a federal form of government to avoid disruption to the economy’s growth momentum.

Socioeconomic Planning Undersecretary Rosemarie G. Edillon said that the proposed switch to a federal system of government should span for 15 years.

In a recent presentation before the cabinet-level Economic Development Cluster (EDC) meeting, Edillon detailed NEDA’s proposed transition roadmap, which was submitted earlier to the Constitutional Review Committee.

The first phase, or one year of the transition, should be devoted to doing spatial analysis of federated regions and their socioeconomic profiles, accounting of government workforce and functions, and mapping of existing laws, regulations, and policies.

This can be accompanied by an extensive review and amendment of provisions of the 1987 Constitutions that have limited the country’s opportunities to achieve inclusive growth and development.

The second phase, or five years of laying the foundation for federalism, must in clude preparing the regions and rationalizing government structures and functions.

This should include an extensive review and amendment, as necessary, of the Local Government Code and the Administrative Code.

During this period, a transitional period charter should be adopted and the federal transition commission must be established.

The transitional government can be activated in the third phase which spans three years.
During this time, the government will be prepared for genuine devolution.

NEDA proposed that the operationalization of five pilot federated regions based on readiness and willingness be done in the fourth phase for five years.

During the last phase of the transition, the transition government should be deactivated along with the ratification of the amended constitution.

The regional development councils may serve as interim regional governments.