Federalism to result in peace in Mindanao -- Pimentel
Although the adoption of a federal system of government would take time, Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III said this would eventually result in peace in Mindanao.
Pimentel stressed this point during the recent 136th Interparliamentary Union Assembly noting that “some rebel groups therein have been clamoring for decades for some kind of autonomy rule."
He pointed out federalism would act as "chosen weapon to fight the inter-generational problems of poverty, inequality, and the societal instability” and urged other legislators to be open to this type of change.
"Let us be open to challenging the status quo and make the attitudinal change of entertaining outside of the box solutions to inter-generational problems," Pimentel said.
Aside from resulting in peace, he said that the shift to federalism would also encourage the preservation of the culture, language, and other practices and beliefs of the country's numerous ethno-linguistic groups.
Moreover, he said the Philippines continued to grapple with "the wealth gap."
"The Philippines is too familiar with this wealth gap, especially the gap which exists within the country. Last year, our economy again posted a strong 6.6 percent growth in GDP, following steady growth in the previous years -- but it has yet to be truly felt by the majority of our citizens, especially the poor that still comprise a little more than 1/4 of our population,” Pimentel said.
He said that contributing to this problem was the fact that the Philippines is a unitary state, with more than 60 percent of its GDP generated in Metro Manila and the areas near the national capital.
"…The poorest and least developed areas of the Philippines are found in the far south of the capital, in the island called Mindanao. In short, the richest areas in the Philippines are the capital and those closest to it. The poorest are those farthest from the capital," he noted.
He further said that the shift to federalism would involve the regions in national decision making and accelerate the economic development of regions.
Under the proposed federalism plan of President Rodrigo Duterte, the country will be divided into 11 regions.
The country’s adoption of federalism is one of the major thrusts of President Duterte, who is also the first president from Mindanao. (PNA) /AZER N. PARROCHA