"Federalism is the Step Towards Disintregation"- Governor Cerilles
The debate over Federalism to replace the existing rule of the Local Government Code in the present form of government started way back 1987 under the Presidency of the late Cory Aquino. Former Senator Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel the chairperson of local government committee in that time and a loyal ally of Aquino was the forerunner of the proposition initiating a new form of government under the Federal system.
In that time, the young Congressman Antonio Cerilles was the assistant minority floor leader of the house of representative that opposed, stood-up and brawled against Federalism and fought to uphold the local government code. The opposition group as the debate soared against the administration backed federal form of government system ended and concluded favoring the local government code as voted and supported by majority of the lower house and reinforced by the senate.
The local government code was wrote and crafted by an expert economist in the name of Atty. Gaudencio C. Susmeñain the time of late President Ferdinand Marcos. Susmeña who’s middle initial C stands for Cerilles who happened to be a biological uncle of then Congressman now Governor Tony Cerilles.
“This is the reason why I understand well and know the weaknesses of the proposed federal form of government because I have studied and researched thoroughly the local government code documents which was given to me by my uncle (Atty. Susmeña) guided me the factual insights which I used in all the debates against federalism and made us victorious”, this was the point made by Governor Antonio Cerilles as guest speaker during the 10th Commencement of Josefina Hererra-Cerilles State College( JHCSC)- Ramon Magsaysay Campus last April 4, 2017.
But not until now as President Duterte assumes post last July 2016, he orchestrated for the second time around the proposed bill of installing Federal form of government along with his allies House Speaker Congressman Panataleon Alvarez with the support of Senate President Aqulino “Koko” Pimentel, son of Former Senator Nene Pimentel the stalwarts of PDP Laban.
He emphasized that under the Federal Form of Government the currency, defense, and diplomacy is in control of the central or Federal Government and all the remaining fundamentals of the state will be given to the local regional governments. The regional governments will have the power to use its executive and legislative powers and can mobilize using its own local funds and all resources. This is quite good to the ears as this regional governments have the freedom of its own to rule and have the power to exercises the authority independently, he added.
”Can the local funds of the local government units suffice to run its own independent government from its individual collections (Taxes)? Is it sufficient in all the operation of LGU’s in giving all the basic services to its constituencies?”, this is the query of the Gov. Cerilles with regards the advocacy of Duterte administration that pushes the federal form of government.
“It is insufficient, we are lacking funds to operate in our own”, he clarified that we in Zambanga del Sur base on the tax collection of Bureau of Internal Revenue(BIR) has only about Php 800 Million while our current Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) is Php 1.3 Billion. With this alone, we are short of about Php 500 Million if we will have the federal form of government, he said.
“Federal government only suit on highly industrialized and wealthy regions like central Luzon and central Visayas but how about here in Mindanao? I don’t think those wealthy region in Luzon will help the poor regions in Mindanao to the fact that they will be also independent and have their own operations with inadequate funds”, he emphasized.
“Federalism is the step towards disintegration”, this system according to him will lead to chaos and division of people for the reason that the regional or the local government units will compete with each one because of the scarcity of funds especially on poor regions.
“Under Federal system, each of the regional government has its sovereignty and all the elements of the state are given and with this, they have the power and freedom to separate from the Republic (Philippines) to which suits the claim of the MNLF (Moro National Liberation Front) chaired by NurMisuari to reclaim the provinces specified in the Tripoli Agreement including Zamboanga del Sur under the Autonomous Region that seeks to separate from the country will be possible”, he said.
“I will not allow the people to suffer from wrong judgments made by people who only seeks fame and self-interests without understanding what really the problem is, there’s no need for federalism”. “Just respect and implement what is indicated in the Local Government Code specially Sections 2,8,4 or the real devolution funds and fiscal autonomy of LGU’s with the exact allocation of 40 percent will be given from the national funds as mandated by the Law, I’m sure development and progress will follow”, he clarified.