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HIGHLIGHTS

 

q  The Congressional Policy and Budget Research Department (CPBRD), Institute for Autonomy and Governance (IAG), and International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA) held a forum on “Federal System, Intergovernmental Relations and Federated Regions”  at the House of Representatives on 16 August 2018.  The event was the fifth and last of a series of learning sessions on charter change and federalism which aims to introduce basic considerations in constitutional change and design.  It highlighted key features of the proposed “Bayanihan Federalism’’ and the emerging issues of the draft charter.

 

q   Dr. Romulo Emmanuel Miral, Jr. of CPBRD, in his opening remarks, pointed out that there are different views and sentiments on the proposed federal system of government. Some support the initiative and others opposed it. He added that even economic experts are opposing the draft charter. He suggested that there must be a clear roadmap before moving towards a different system of government.

 

q  He also explained that there are many forms of federal government, and recommend that we should consider the ones that are suitable for the country’s local context and problems. He also emphasized the importance of intergovernmental relations (IGR) in promoting decentralization and local autonomy. Dr. Miral argued that autonomy alone could not guarantee the success of a state, but it is critical for them to cooperate and coordinate with each other in many dimensions such as regulations and delivery of services.

 

q  Attorney Benedicto Bacani of AIG gave an overview of the lecture series and explained the significance of the passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Organic Law (BBOL) and the publication of the draft ConCom. He added that the lecture series only presented concrete proposals for the draft charter, and strongly emphasized that it is not a campaign or advocacy for and against federalism. The only objective of the learning sessions is to provide an avenue for a comprehensive and more in-depth discourse about the subject.

 

q  Ms. Amanda Cats-Baril of International IDEA lectured on “Federalism: Key Features, Issues, and Considerations.” She stressed that a properly functioning federation requires a culture of mutual respect, trust, and cooperation between the levels of government and there must be a freedom of movement within the federation. She pointed out that the division of powers must apply the principle of subsidiarity in the assignment of functions.   That power should be granted to the lowest level that can most effectively implement it. She also discussed the distribution of tax powers, revenue sharing, and fiscal equalization. She concluded her presentation by pointing out that implementation is a common challenge in all cases of new constitutional arrangements and that appropriate divisions of resources should match the division of powers and responsibilities.

 

q  The presentation of Professor Edmund Tayao focused on the salient features of the proposed “Bayanihan Federalism.” He pointed out that there are 18 regions identified as the starting point for the transition towards federalism. A Regional Governor will head the Federated Regions and supported by a Regional Assembly elected through mixed first-past-the-post (FPTP) and proportional representation (PR). He also recommends that regarding tax assignments, we should follow in situ collection and administration and that regions should obtain taxes that are due to them. Moreover, the 50-50 sharing of revenues will also be followed.  FRs will receive equalization funds for support, especially those that are still fiscally weak during the transition.

 

q  Attorney Michael Henry Yusingco of IAG and Ateneo Policy Center discussed the emerging issues on the “Bayanihan Federalism” draft charter. He outlined in his presentation the economic and political implications of the draft charter, including the weaknesses of its transitory provisions. He pointed out that there could be a potential imbalance in the fiscal arrangement, as regions appear to be responsible for fewer functions and yet have a more significant share of the revenue pie. He added that patronage and partisanship politics could dominate the management of equalization funds. Regarding political implications, the proposed system can cause ambiguity in shared and reserved powers, creating potential conflicts between regional governments and LGUs. The very powerful Federal Transition Commission tasked to formulate the transition plan which is headed by the President, and the step-in or take over the power of the President with no limitations, are seen as weaknesses of the transitory provisions.

 

q  In the open forum, questions and issues raised include the: a) proposed provisions on the political dynasty, b) imposition of taxes between the federal and state government, c) representation in the Federal Intergovernmental Commission, and d) global trend of countries shifting towards a federal system of government

 

PROGRAMME
9:00 AM - 9:30 AM                  Registration
9:30 AM - 9:40 AM

OPENING REMARKS

DR. ROMULO E.M. MIRAL JR.,

Director General

CPBRD, House of Representatives

9:40 AM - 9:50 AM

INTRODUCTION TO THE LECTURE SERIES

ATTY. BENEDICTO BACANI

Executive Director

Institute for Autonomy and Governance (AIG)

9:50 AM - 11:50 AM

PRESENTATIONS

Introduction to Federalism, Inter-governmental Relations and federated States

MS. AMANDA CATS-BARIL

International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance 

Proposed Bayanihan Federalism

Prof. EDMUND TAYAO 

Member, Consultative Committee to Review the 1987 Constitution

Emerging Issues on the Bayanihan Federalism Draft Charter

Atty. MICHAEL HENRY YUSINGCO, LL.M

Fellow, IAG and Ateneo Policy Center

11:50 AM - 12:50 AM Open Forum (Working Lunch)
12:50 AM - 1:20 PM

PRESENTATIONS

Observations and Comments

MS. AMANDA CATS-BARIL

International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance 

Turn-over of Educational Materials on Federalism and Charter Change

MS. AMANDA CATS-BARIL

International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance

1:20 PM - 2:00 PM Closing

MODERATOR

MR. NOVEL BANGSAL

Director,  Social Policy Research Service, CPBRD