Nene Pimentel promotes federal form of government
FORMER senator Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel, Jr. said it might also be best to adopt proposals to federalize the country so there will be equal sharing of powers between the national government and local government units (LGUs).
“By federalizing our country, I believe we will speed up not only the modernization of the Republic, but its development as well,” said Pimentel, popularly known as the father of the Local Government Code.
He said there is a need to fully implement the Local Government Code so the towns and cities across the country can experience modernization and development.
He added the law has mandated the devolution of powers of the national government over three departments to the local governments.
“Up to now, the appropriations of the funds for the three departments that had already been devolved are still being done — and disbursed — by the central government according to its wishes,” he told participants to the Philippine Society of Public Administration (PSPA) conference at the Capitol Social Hall yesterday.
The 81-year-old former senator was among the speakers who shared their insights on the current state of decentralization and democracy in Philippine communities.
Some 25 years ago, the LGC devolved the powers of the national government over the Departments of Agriculture, Health, and Social Welfare to the LGUs.
Pimentel said the rationale for the devolution was that local government officials know better what the needs of their constituents are, and how to address these needs, provided that LGUs are given the power, personnel, and funds to do so.
He said that while towns and cities in the country have come a long way since the enactment of the law, there is still much room for improvement left as far as the devolution of power is concerned.
This present state, he said, is contrary to what the devolution was meant to accomplish.
The departments which have supposedly been devolved to the LGUs are still manned by secretaries and scores of bureaucrats in Metro Manila, as well as in the provinces and cities.
Pimentel called on the national government to refrain from “dipping its fingers” into the affairs of the LGUs in matters, at least, of agriculture, health, and social welfare.
The former senator questioned why funds for the response to typhoon Yolanda in 2013 had to be released through the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) when there are local government agencies duly capable.
Presidential aspirant Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte has been going around the country to promote federalism.
But Pimentel clarified that he is not promoting partisan political agenda. He said the idea of federalizing the country has long been discussed in the Visayas and Mindanao.
The PSPA conference is intended to kick off a series of discussions where local experts and specialists from different sectors share their experiences and insights on the state of decentralization and democracy in Philippine communities.
It opened last Thursday, Nov. 26, and will conclude today, Nov. 28.
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