By Ben O. de Vera, September 3 2018; Philippine Daily Inquirer


Image Credit to Business Mirror

The transition period to a federal government may take only three years and would not take a longer time as the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) had proposed, according to Budget Secretary Benjamin E. Diokno.

Last week, Neda pitched a 15-year transition roadmap to the Economic Development Cluster, following a similar recommendation to the Constitutional Review Committee.

‘15 years is too long’

But Diokno said “15 years is too long to have a change in government.”

“I disagree with the projection. In that case, that will not happen if it will take 15 years. Only the President is hot on federalism,” Diokno told reporters in Filipino.

Diokno said the shift could be done within a three-year period.

The projected wider budget deficit as a result of a jump in expenditures to establish the federated regions on top of the federal government could be spread out within that timeframe, the budget chief said.

Under Neda’s proposed 15-year transition roadmap, the government, during the first phase covering one year, will have to analyze the country’s socioeconomic and political landscapes, including analysis of regional socioeconomic profiles; spatial analysis of federated regions; accounting of government workforce and functions; mapping of existing laws, regulations and policies; as well as consultation on issues in the 1987 Constitution that need to be addressed.

Grounds for federalism

The second phase involving five years will lay down the grounds for federalism by adopting a transitional period charter and establishing a federal transition commission; rationalizing government structures and functions; preparing the regions; and conducting civic education and public consultation.

The three-year third phase proposed by Neda will involve preparing the bureaucracy for genuine devolution, alongside formulating the amendments to the Constitution.

The next five years under the fourth phase will cover the federation of pilot regions or the more developed regions based on readiness and willingness.

Finally, the one-year fifth phase will involve the ratification of the amended constitution, paving the way for the full transition to federalism.

In the final year of Neda’s proposed transition period, the transitional government will be deactivated and the regional development councils will serve as interim regional governments while capacity building of subnational government agencies continues.