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No to federalism! Drilon: LGU’s can be empowered by passing BBL-like laws

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There is no need to revise the 1987 Constitution or shift to a federal form of government to achieve autonomy or self-governance for the local government units (LUGs).

Senate Minority Leader Frank Drilon stressed this on Wednesday amid proposals from the administration allies in the House of Representatives to amend the charter to shift to federalism supposedly to address the “over concentration” of growth in Metro Manila.

“The principle of self-government can be achieved without overhauling the Constitution or shifting to a federal form of government as evidenced in the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) that we are set to pass within the week,” Drilon said.

He said that in crafting the BBL, it has been proven that it is entirely “doable” to give more powers to the LGUs which are crucial in the exercise of their autonomy.

“Federalism, in simple terms, is giving more powers to the LGUs and less intervention from the national government,” Drilon said.

“We can achieve that goal by way of a legislation or by strengthening the Local Government Code of 1991 which is a better, faster, and less controversial way than amending the Constitution,” he said.

He added, “Unless they have ulterior motives like a term extension or ‘no-el’ (no-election), I don’t see any reason why they would not attempt to explore that route rather than forcing Cha-cha upon the Filipino people.”

He was referring to proponents of Charter change (Cha-cha), particularly those in the supermajority in the House of Representatives.

Drilon said that in the draft BBL, there are about 56 specific powers and responsibilities that are transferred and devolved to the Bangsamoro region that will replace the current Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

Among these powers include fiscal autonomy, devolution of health, urban and land reform, administration of justice system, control over free ports and economic zones, the power for administrative reorganization, and creation of government-owned-and-controlled corporations.

“In the BBL, we have maximized the principle of decentralization enshrined in the Constitution and the local government code in order to guarantee its autonomy. The same can be done to all other regions in the country,” Drilon said.

Drilon also noted that 5% of the taxes collected, estimated to be at around P60 to P70 billion, will be automatically appropriated to the Bangsamoro region as block grant.

That is on top of its share in the taxes collected within the region. The Bangsamoro region will also get its share from the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA).