Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III has enjoined the country’s municipal and city councilors to support the national movement for a federal state, saying that it would take time before the change in the form of government would be realized.
But while the proposal is fast gaining ground with support from various groups, led by the administration party Partido Demokratiko Pilipino Lakas ng Bayan (PDP LABAN), he said the government of President Duterte has already introduced various measures to provide solutions to the country’s problems.
He said there are many legislative measures in Congress that are currently in the pipeline to ensure that the reforms in the 2017 national budget would be institutionalized in addition to the government’s relentless war on illegal drugs and other initiatives to maintain law and order.
Pimentel told the national convention of the Philippine Councilors League (PCL) at the World Trade Center in Pasay City, that one of pending measures is Senate Bill No. 110, or the “Bigger Pie, Bigger Slice” bill which he described as an insurance policy while waiting for the adoption of the federal government and the arrival of its promised benefits.
“Habang wala pa ito, tayo ay kumikilos na rin para masolusyonan ang mga problem ng ating bansa,” said Pimentel, noting that federalism is a complex proposal that would take time before it would finally become a law.
Pimentel is proposing amendments to Section 284 of the Local Government Code of 1991 to give the local government units (LGUs) their rightful share in the “national taxes” instead of the present more limited concept of “national internal revenue taxes.”
Under this proposed change, he said the national government revenues which the LGUs would have a share in would include customs duties, and aside from enlarging the pie, will also increase their shares to 50 percent from the current 40 percent.
He said the national government has given the LGUs so many mandates and responsibilities, but not enough resources.
“It is time that the LGUs be given the resources to capacitate and empower them to fulfil their mandates under the law and to solve problems at their level,” said Pimentel of his pending measure in the Senate.
Pimentel said the 2017 General Appropriations Act, dubbed as the budget for change, shares the nation’s blessings to all in the form of free tuition in state universities and colleges, free irrigation for farmers, free health insurance coverage for all, and well distributed strategic infrastructure works, among others.
“Through this effort, we have made a bold step towards achieving my mantra for our new government – the poorest first, the poor second,” said Pimentel.