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Local lawmakers want to cut up Palawan into 3 provinces

PALAWAN, Philippines (UPDATED) – Is it time to divide Palawan into 3 provinces?

This has become a big thing in the province in the past few days as the provincial board began
deliberating on it with the end goal of maximizing the delivery of basic services to Palaweños.

In a regular session last Tuesday, July 4, 1st District board member David Francis Ponce de Leon brought
up the proposal through a resolution, which has gained support from the majority of the legislative

Ponce de Leon's resolution suggests the creation of Southern, Central, and Northern Palawan provinces,
which would all pass the required population of 250,000, an annual income of P20 million, and a land
area of 2,000 square kilometers, as provided under Republic Act 7160 or the Local Government Code of

The resolution was originally proposed in 2007 by the author's father, former vice governor David Ponce
de Leon, but it did not prosper in Congress.

The proposed 3 provinces of Palawan will be:

 Southern Palawan

o Aborlan

o Narra

o Quezon

o Rizal

o Sofronio Española

o Brooke's Point

o Bataraza

o Balabac

 Central Palawan

o Roxas

o Taytay

o El Nido

o San Vicente

o Dumaran

o Kalayaan
o Araceli

o Cagayancillo

 Northern Palawan

o Coron

o Culion

o Busuanga

o Linapacan

o Cuyo

o Agutaya

o Magsaysay

By creating new provinces, old-timer and newbie politicians can vie for additional government seats: 3
governors and vice governors, as well as 30 more provincial board members. And to some extent, it
would also mean creation of additional congressional districts.

"It is true that much development had taken place in Palawan with a single provincial government,"
Ponce de Leon said. But he believes it "would have a much faster rate of development and progress by 3
provincial governments serving 3 smaller areas of jurisdiction."

A province of 771,667 inhabitants (excluding Puerto Princesa) and a land area of around 1.5 million
hectares, Palawan is the country's largest province that falls under the Mimaropa region.

The move would also pave the way for the establishment of regional government offices in the province,
according to the committee on local government chair.

Currently, he added, most of those regional centers are located in Calapan City, hence entailing big costs
for Palaweños when doing transactions.

Road to becoming a federal state

According to Ponce de Leon, the division and regionalization sit well with President Rodrigo Duterte's
push for changing the country's current unitary form of government into a federal one.

"To become a federal state, Palawan should be divided into 3 provinces to constitute a region with the
city of Puerto Princesa as its regional center," he said in his explanatory note.

Ponce de Leon further underscored how Palawan would "benefit from federalization if it is made a
federal state by itself and not simply one province of another federal state."

For a natural resource-rich province boasting resource-based industries like mineral and oil-rich
Palawan, federalism is appealing since it would allow this wannabe region to retain most of its income
instead of sending it to the national government. (READ: Duterte: Federalism allows regions to keep
most of their income)
If declared an autonomous region or state, Palawan would have primary responsibility for developing its
industries, public safety, education, healthcare, transportation, recreation, and culture. It will also have
more power over its finances, development plans, and laws exclusive to its jurisdiction. (READ: Will
federalism address PH woes? Pros and cons of making the shift)

More portions to be ironed out

Last Wednesday, July 5, the provincial board tackled the matter in a joint deliberation of the committees
on local government and rules and laws.

The meeting revolved around the issue of which to undertake first – "to divide the province into 3
provinces or to push for regionalization" – so it would seamlessly breeze through Congress and the
Senate, according to 1st District board member Roseller Pineda, chair of the committee on rules and

"From that, a question already arises," he told Rappler by phone on Sunday, July 9. "We need to address
that as a body."

Pineda said the proposal would go through a lot of changes to consider certain matters, like grouping
the towns according to proximity to each other, local economy, as well as prevailing customs and

To make sure "no one would be left behind," another concern to look at, according to Pineda, is the
delineation of political boundaries and the capacity of the soon-to-be clustered towns to stand as a new

The provincial board has set meetings with Palawan Governor Jose Alvarez and the province's 3
congressmen to get backing and have their suggestions included in the proposal.

Alvarez has already expressed support for the proposal, saying it would speed up development and the
quality of life in the entire province.

In May 2016, 2nd District Representative Frederick Abueg announced he would push for the move,
which was supported right away by his colleague, 3rd District Representative Gil Acosta.

1st District Representative Franz Josef George Alvarez refused to take a categorical stand on the matter
back then, but he said he would follow public consensus.

A technical working group will soon be created to further study the proposal before presenting it in
public consultations.
Duterte: Federalism allows regions to keep most of their income

ANTIPOLO CITY, Philippines – Regions with more resources to fuel their development is one promise
federalism can deliver, said the tandem of Rodrigo Duterte and Alan Peter Cayetano on Monday, March

Their call for a federalist form of government was one aspect of their platform the pair highlighted when
they campaigned in vote-rich Rizal province.

They were received at the provincial capitol in Antipolo City by former governor Casimiro Ynares Jr, the
patriarch of the Ynares politican clan. Casimiro’s wife, Rebecca, is the incumbent governor seeking
reelection in May.

With provincial officials and mayors in the audience, Duterte and Cayetano said local government units
(LGUs) will be the primary beneficiaries of federalism.

“The most outstanding feature of a federal set-up is that our resources are ours to benefit from. If it is
P100, you get P30, ipadala mo doon sa federal government (give it to the federal government), you
retain P70,” said Duterte.

The problem with the current unitary form of government, he asserted, is the unfair distribution of
funds between the local government and national government.

LGUs remit all of their income to the national government and receive an Internal Revenue Allotment
(IRA) – 40% of the taxes collected by the Bureau of Internal Revenue.

Duterte said the IRA is a “pittance” compared to how much funds federalism will make available to

Cayetano said federalism is the only way to turn around the supposedly defective system in place.
“Lahat nangangako sa inyo ng pagbabago, pero lahat gusto pareho sistema eh. Iisang kandidato, si
Mayor Duterte, ang nagsabing palitan natin ang sistema. Federalismo, ang pera ng Rizal, mapupunta sa
Rizal,” said the vice-presidential bet.

(Everyone is promising change, but all of them want to have the same system. Only one candidate,
Mayor Duterte, is saying we need to replace the system. In federalism, the money of Rizal stays in Rizal.)

Duterte, a mayor of Davao City for 22 years, has said his experience as a local government official in
Mindanao has given him the insight to propose federalism.

“Nothing short of federalism will bring peace to Mindanao,” he said one of his oft-repeated mantras on
the campaign trail.

He claims that separatist groups in Mindanao are likely to agree with federalism as long as key aspects
of the configuration in the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law are retained.

No Ynares endorsement

Despite the Ynareses' warm welcome of Duterte, Casimiro Ynares Jr said their family is still waiting for
Nationalist People’s Coalition founder Eduardo Cojuangco Jr’s decision on who to endorse for president.
Ynares is a member of the NPC, the second largest political party in the country, whose senior leaders
endorsed Grace Poe but was questioned by some local members.

Aside from Duterte, Liberal Party standard-bearer Manuel Roxas II and Vice President Jejomar Binay
have visited Rizal, the 8th most vote-rich province of the country because of its 1.45 million registered

Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr, running for vice president, has also campaigned here.

Rebecca Ynares, Rizal governor, was not present during Duterte’s visit because she was “feeling under
the weather,” said Mayor Ynares.

Duterte’s spotlight on his federalism proposal is his latest addition to his campaign speeches. In previous
speeches, he dealt heavily with his promise to suppress drugs, crime, and corruption.
He delved into explanations of federalism in provinces dominated by political clans: first in Ilocos Norte,
a bailiwick of the Marcoses; second in Ilocos Sur, dominated by the Singsons; and now in Rizal where the
Ynareses fill the top posts.

Some critics, including presidential bet Grace Poe, have pointed out that federalism can only further
entrench political dynasties.

Asked about this con, Duterte told reporters: “That is another form. They will have to reinvent
[federalism] on how to do it.”

Duterte himself is, in a way, head of a political family. His daughter Sara was once Davao City mayor and
is now seeking the same post. His son, Paolo, is serving as his vice mayor.

Asked about whether he will support an anti-dynasty bill, Duterte said: “I’m sure we cannot make a
sweeping statement that just because they are members of a political family or clan or an elite doesn’t
mean to say they are not capable of running government. At the end, it’s the individual.”

During his speech, he said federalism will put pressure on citizens to vote for the right regional officials
precisely because these officials will have more power than in the current system.

Thoughts of a fellow mayor

Antipolo Mayor Casimiro "Jun" Ynares III, a former governor and the son of Casimiro Jr, said he sees the
pros and cons of federalism.

“Because of the present situation as discussed by Mayor Duterte where, number one, there is a problem
with the sharing of funds between the national and local government units, different cultures mean
different laws apply. For several reasons, it’s favorable,” he told Rappler.

But federalism without proper coordination between regions could create a confusing patchwork of
policies, he said.
“For example MMDA, there’s color coding. Color coding in Makati is different from the color coding in
Pasig, different in Marikina. In other countries, there is a tendency to come together. Tayo dito sa
Pilipinas, ang hilig maghiwalay-hiwalay (We in the Philippines prefer to be separated),” Ynares III said. –
Will federalism address PH woes? Pros and cons of making the shift

At least 3 presidential and vice presidential candidates in 2016 are pushing for a change in the Philippine
system of government

Some candidates in the 2016 national elections have been vocal about their support for federalism.

Presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte, and vice presidential bets Alan Peter Cayetano (his running
mate) and Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr, in particular, have been championing it.

Supporters of federalism say it will evenly distribute wealth across the country instead of the bulk going
to "imperial" Manila. Detractors, like presidential candidate Grace Poe, say it will further entrench
political dynasties in the regions and create confusion over responsibilities.

ead on to find out more about federalism and its perceived advantages and

What is federalism?

It is a form of government where sovereignty is constitutionally shared between a

central governing authority and constituent political units called states or regions.

In basic terms, it will break the country into autonomous regions with a national
government focused only on interests with nationwide bearing: foreign policy and
defense, for example.

The autonomous regions or states, divided further into local government units, will have
primary responsibility over developing their industries, public safety, education,
healthcare, transportation, recreation, and culture. These states will have more power
over their finances, development plans, and laws exclusive to ther jurisdiction.

The central government and states can also share certain powers.

How is it different from what we have now?

We presently have a unitary form of government. Most administrative powers and

resources are with the national government based in Metro Manila. It's Malacañang that
decides how much to give local government units. The process is prone to abuse, with
governors and mayors sometimes having to beg Malacañang for projects they believe
their communities need.
How local government units spend their budget has to be approved by the national

In federalism, the states will have the power to make these decisions with little or no
interference from the national government.

Examples of federal countries: United States, Canada, Australia, Brazil, India, Malaysia.

Locals decide for themselves. Regions have their own unique problems,
situations, geographic, cultural, social and economic contexts. Federalism allows
them to create solutions to their own problems instead of distant Metro Manila
deciding for them.
The states can establish policies that may not be adopted nationwide. For example,
liberal Metro Manila can allow same-sex marriage which the state of Bangsamoro,
predominantly Muslim, would not allow. In the United States, some states like Colorado
and Washington have legalized recreational marijuana even if other states have not.

This makes sense in an archipelago of over 7,000 islands and 28 dominant ethnic
groups. For decades, the national government has been struggling to address the
concerns of 79 (now 81) provinces despite challenges posed by geography and cultural
With national government, and thus power, centered in Metro Manila, it's no surprise
that development in the mega city has spiralled out of control while other parts of the
country are neglected.

More power over funds, resources. Right now, local government units can only
collect real estate tax and business permit fees. In federalism, they can retain
more of their income and are required to turn over only a portion to the state
government they fall under.
Thus, local governments and state governments can channel their own funds toward
their own development instead of the bulk of the money going to the national
government. They can spend the money on programs and policies they see fit without
waiting for the national government's go signal.

Promotes specialization. The national and state governments can specialize in

different policy domains. With most administrative powers now with the regional
governments, the national government can focus on foreign policy, defense, and
other nationwide concerns, like healthcare and taxation.
States have more autonomy to focus on economic development using their core
competencies and industries. The state of Central Luzon can focus on becoming an
agricultural hub. The state of Mimaropa, home to Palawan, can choose to use eco-
tourism as its primary launch pad.
Possible solution to the Mindanao conflict. The creation of the state of
Bangsamoro within a federalist system may address concerns of separatists who crave
more autonomy over the administration of Muslim Mindanao.

Decongestion of Metro Manila. Through fiscal autonomy for state governments,

federalism will more evenly distribute the country's wealth. In 2015, 35% of the
national budget went to Metro Manila even if it represents only 14% of the
Philippine population.

Lessens dependence on Metro Manila. When there is political upheaval in

Metro Manila, other regions that have nothing to do with the chain of events are
left waiting for the resources that ony the national government can release. With
federalism, regions work independently of Metro Manila for most concerns.
Brings government closer to the people. If detractors say federalism will only
make local political dynasties more powerful, supporters give the argument that,
in fact, it will make all local leaders, including those part of political dynasties,
more accountable to their constituents. State governments will no longer have
any excuse for delays in services or projects that, in the present situation, are
often blamed on choking bureaucracy in Manila.
Assuming more autonomy for regions leads to economic development, there will be
more incentive for Filipinos to live and work in regions outside Metro Manila. More
investors may also decide to put up their businesses there, creating more jobs and
opportunities to attract more people away from the jam-packed mega city.

Encourages competition. With states now more self-reliant and in control of

their development, they will judge themselves relative to how their fellow states
are progressing. The competitive spirit will hopefully motivate state leaders and
citizens to level up in terms of quality of life, economic development, progressive
policies, and governance.

Possibly divisive. Healthy competition among states can become alienating –

creating rivalries and promoting the regionalism that some say already
challenges the sense of unity in the country. It could enflame hostilities between
ethnic groups in the country like Tagalogs, Cebuanos, Bicolanos, Ilocanos,
Tausugs, and Zamboangueños.

Uneven development among states. Some states may not be as ready for
autonomy as others. Some states may not be as rich in natural resources or
skilled labor as others. States with good leaders will progress faster while states
with ineffective ones will degrade more than ever because national government
will not be there to balance them out.
But in some federal countries, the national government doles out funds to help poorer
states. A proposed Equalization Fund will use a portion of tax from rich states to be
given to poorer states.

Confusing overlaps in jurisdiction. Where does the responsibility of state

governments end and where does the responsibility of the national government
begin? Unless these are very clearly stated in the amended Constitution,
ambiguities may arise, leading to conflict and confusion. For instance, in times of
disaster, what is the division of responsibilities between state and national
May not satisfy separatists in Mindanao. Separatists are calling for their own
country, not just a state that still belongs to a larger federal Philippines.
Federalism may not be enough for them. After all, the conflict continues despite
the creation of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
How the Philippines would look when federal

In some proposals, there will be 10 or 11 autonomous states. Senator Aquilino Pimentel

Jr envisioned 11 states plus the Federal Administrative Region of Metro Manila.

Here's how the Philippines will look like as laid out in Pimentel's 2008 Joint Resolution
Number 10.
Cost of federalism
Shifting to federalism won't come cheap. It would entail billions of pesos to set up state
governments and the delivery of state services. States will then have to spend for the
elections of their officials.

Attempts at federalism in PH
There was an attempt during the administration of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
One of her campaign promises was to reform the 1987 Constitution.

A consultative commission she created recommended federalism as one of the goals of

the proposed charter change. But the attempt failed because of opposition from various
sectors who believed Arroyo wanted to use the reform to extend her term limit.

(Note that shifting to a federal government does not necessarily mean an extension of
term limits for the sitting president. Such an extension would only take place in a shift to
a parliamentary government.)

In 2008, Pimentel Jr and Bacolod City Representative Monico Puentevella filed joint
resolutions to convene Congress into a constituent assembly with the goal of amending
the constitution to establish a federal form of government. –

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First what is federalism? Federalism is defining as the allocation of power between the national
government and regional government. A system of government in which the power is divided between a
central authority and constituent political units. Is it advisable for a country like us to adapt this kind of

According to Jose Abueva, former president of University of the Philippines and a professor of public
and administration we should take federal kind of government. He said that the Philippines would take a
period of no less than 10 years to make a successful transition to federalism, involving a period of
consolidation of several regions and intensive socioeconomic development in each of consolidated
regions. Advantages of federal government are the following: (1) It ensures that government remains
close to the people because the state government argue that they are more in tune with the daily needs
and aspirations of people especially relevant to small and isolated places. (2) It encourages development
of the nation in a decentralized and regional manner and allows for unique and innovative methods for
attacking social, economic and political problems. (3) It provides a barrier to the dominance of the
majority, while the disadvantages are the following: (1) It can lead to duplication of government and
inefficient, over-lapping or contradictory policies in different parts of the country. (2) It can lead to
inequality between the states and lead to unhealthy competition and rivalry between them. (3) It cal
lead to over-government that will result to corruption. I have cited both faces of federal government in
order to inform all of you that federal government is a good system of government and a good example
of successful federal kind of government is the United States of America. But the question here is do we
really need it? Is it advisable for our country to change the government into federal?

On my point of view, we do not need here a change of government all we need is to strengthen the
centralized government. And also it’s very expensive to have a federal kind of government. We have no
enough funds because we are still paying our debts. We have already LGU’S and NGO’S to monitor the
needs of people that have a power equal to the national government. We are making our situation
complicated if we change our present government into federal. Lastly, the Philippines is a third world
country and according to survey last September 16, 2006 we have 25 only of the world’s 193 countries
have federal political system, and 3 out of 25 is belong in Asia. It only indicates that a third world
country like us is not ready and cannot afford the federal government.
Incoming President Rodrigo Duterte has repeatedly spoken about changing the Philippines’
form of government into federalism. According to the president-elect, a federal government can
help the Philippines improve and move towards real progress. A federal government will divide
the Philippines into states with the national government focused on nationwide issues such as
foreign policy and national defense. The autonomous regions or states will then be divided
further into local government units that will have primary accountability for their respective
territory’s safety, security, transportation, education, healthcare, culture, recreation and industry.

However, critics say that there are possible disadvantages if the country adopts a federal form of
government. Here are some of the biggest dangers of federalism in the Philippines.

1. It might create further division and rivalries Federalism could create a healthy competition among
states but it could also lead to more rivalries and worse disunity among the Filipino people. Hostilities
among ethnic groups could also increase due to federalism, according to critics.

2. Some states might lag behind In the Philippines, there are some states that are probably not as ready
to be autonomous compared to other states. The states that would perform poorly – probably those
that lack natural resources and skilled laborers – under a federal government would be in worse
condition than before because the national government would not be there to balance the situation and
help out with their predicaments.

3. Jurisdiction issues A federal form of government might create a lot of confusion for both the citizens
and the governments. The amended constitution has to specify clearly the duties and obligations of the
local governments and the national government in order to prevent chaos and confusion in running the

4. Big costs Transforming the government into federalism is going to be expensive. The government
would have to spend billions of pesos in setting up federal states and delivering their services. The
autonomous states will also have to spend a lot of money just to set up and conduct elections for their
new officials.

5. The Islamic separatists might continue to wreak havoc Some of the radical Islamic separatists want to
have their own country and not just a state. As a matter of fact, the formation of the Autonomous
Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) did not stop some of the terror groups from causing chaos and
death in the country.