With Metro Manila accounting for close to 40 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP) while having 12 percent of the Philippine population, it is time for the country to consider a “different approach” to ensure that the 88 percent of Filipinos living outside the National Capital Region (NCR) could also reap the benefits of economic growth.
This was according to House Appropriations Committee Chair Rep. Karlo “Ang Probinsyano” Nograles, who on Sunday said that federalism may bring about the kind of changes needed to spur economic development in the country’s different regions.
“The country’s economy has grown 6 percent or more for the past eight years, and it is expected to grow for the next decade. The question, however, is if we have seen the same level of economic growth in our regions. According to the data, the answer is no,” lamented the lawmaker from Davao.
According to Nograles, from 2010 to 2015, only four regions in the country had average annual GDP growth rates equal to or higher than that of the NCR, which posted an average annual GDP growth rate of 6.5 percent, a number that mirrors the country’s average annual growth rate.
“Our Constitution and our laws supposedly allow for greater local autonomy so that local government units have more freedom to adopt programs that will benefit them.”
“The other 12 regions are not as fortunate. In Luzon, only Region III outperformed NCR; in the Visayas, only Region VII; in Mindanao, regions XI and Caraga were the only two regions that had economies that grew faster than Metro Manila,” revealed the solon from Mindanao.
“Our Constitution and our laws supposedly allow for greater local autonomy so that local government units have more freedom to adopt programs that will benefit them. But for over three decades, little has changed since I first went to Metro Manila for high school; naiiwan ang mga probinsya ng Maynila,” said the lawyer, who went to the Philippine Science High School before going to the Ateneo de Manila University to obtain his Management Engineering and Juris Doctor degrees.
“Given this, we really should seriously consider federalism so that we can empower our regions not just politically, but financially. With more economic resources, our regions will be able to invest more in the programs necessary to open up economic opportunities in these areas. Makikinabang ang probinsyano sa pederalismo.”
Nograles said he agreed with PDP Laban party mate and president Sen. Koko Pimentel III, who recently emphasized that candidates of the party must be advocates of federalism.
“We really should seriously consider federalism so that we can empower our regions not just politically, but financially.”
Pimentel stressed that PDP Laban candidates in the 2019 polls would have two requisites, “number one is you must be a party member. And you are a federalism advocate, you believe in federalism, among others.”
Nograles said that to move the advocacy forward, President Rodrigo Duterte needs more allies in the Senate who would “actively support the shift to federalism.”
“In the House I believe you will find that federalism has many supporters, since most of us think that federalism will benefit our constituents. The President, however, needs more pro-federalism allies in the Senate for the shift to federalism to have real progress.”