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Federalism shift okayed this year –– House leader

A HOUSE leader is confident that the proposed federalism will be approved this 2018.

Chairman of the House committee on appropriations Rep. Karlo Alexei Nograles said the approval of the federal system of government will be the primary mission of Congress this year.

“The primary mission for us lawmakers in the 17th Congress is to usher in a federalized Philippines in 2018,” Nograles said.

According to Nograles, over 16 million Filipinos gave their stamp of approval to this endeavor when they elected President Rodrigo Duterte who has championed federalism since day one.

On top of setting in motion all government functions, the 2018 GAA provides for the implementation of the free college tuition program under Republic Act (RA) 10931 or the Universal Access to Quality Tertiary Education Act.

The TRAIN, on the other hand, bats for the inclusive growth among the poorer sectors and the middle class by effecting a series of much-sought tax reforms, including lowered income tax rates for Filipinos.
    
“But now that we’re done with the GAA and TRAIN, our focus for the latter half of the 2nd regular session and beyond will be on switching from the current unitary system of government to a federal system,” Nograles said.
    
The 1987 Constitution must first be opened up for amendments in order to allow for the establishment of autonomous federal states. These are Northern Luzon, Central Luzon, Southern Luzon, NCR/Metro Manila, Bicol, MIMAROPA, Eastern Visayas, Central Visayas, Western Visayas, Northern Mindanao, Southern Mindanao, and Bangsamoro.
    
During its last session day of the year last December 13, the House of Representatives began the plenary debates on the convening of the 17th Congress as a Constituent Assembly or Con-Ass under House Concurrent Resolution 9.
    
Duterte and House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez favor the Con-Ass method in revising the existing Charter. Nograles agrees, calling it the most cost-efficient and practical method especially when compared to a Constitutional Convention (Con-Con).
    
“The Con-Ass is designed to maximize the output of legislators while focusing on a specific goal, which is to federalize the government,” Nograles said.
    
A Con-Con, which involves the election of delegates from all districts in the country, is expected to cost the government around P7 billion.