TUGUEGARAO CITY, Philippines- Former Senator Joey Lina Jr said in a Nueva Vizcaya federalism workshop on Saturday, March 10, that there is no need to change the Philippines’ 1987 constitution in order to push for a federal form of government.
In a press release by Beegee Lorenzo of the provincial government, Lina said a federal system will be “fulfilled and realized without the need of constitutional change” if local government units (LGUs) and regional development councils will be strengthened and empowered.
The former Laguna governor and senator shared his insights on federalism in a workshop at Sacred Heart Chapel, Saint Mary’s University, Bayombong, sponsored by the Provincial Government of Nueva Vizcaya.
“A thorough understanding of the 1987 Constitution will clearly show that the principles of federalism are already embedded in the 1987 Constitution. What needs to be done is to operationalize the hallmarks of federalism which are local autonomy, subsidiarity and decentralization,” Lina said in the release.
Lina was also echoing his recent opinion published in his Manila Bulletin column this February.
He said the national government was “irrelevant” during his time as governor because the provincial government is “constitutionally autonomous.” “This means the province has the power to chart its own destiny and plan on its own apart from national government.,” he added.
In his talk, Lina said principles found in the 1987 Constitution qualify the current government system as “Philippine-style Federalism,” adding that federal states of countries such as Canada, Australia, Malaysia have different styles.
“No local government can establish its own national defense, have its own currencies and weights and measures, customs and quarantine, or enter into international treaties; these are powers of the national government. But for other areas of local concern, the LGUs are in-charge. The office of the president cannot change the decisions of the local governments, as it merely exercises supervisory functions over them,” he said in the release.
The former senator also noted in a senate committee hearing that local governments are “empowered by the Constitution with the capacity for self-rule to effectively address and decide on all local concerns.”
The former senator also expressed disagreement with the proposed transition to federal form of government. He added that the Local Government Code only needs to be reviewed and be fully implemented.
Lina was chairman of senate committee on constitutional amendments during his time. He was also a former member of PDP-Laban, President Rodrigo Duterte’s political party.
Meanwhile, Governor Carlos Padilla expressed his support for a federalist government but he rejected the idea of having regional states.
“If you are to ask me, it’s a YES to Federal but NO to regional state” Padilla said in a report from Philippine Information Agency (PIA).
He said a regional state will be disadvantageous to provinces with small voting population, pointing out the possibility of such provinces to be marginalized.