Press Release
June 30, 2008


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today said the very slow delivery of relief goods and other forms of emergency assistance from the national government to the typhoon-ravaged communities vividly illustrates the flaws in the existing unitary system of government wherein local government units heavily depend on "imperial Manila" for the release of much-needed funds and aid.

Pimentel said this intolerable situation during severe calamities bolsters the argument for adopting a federal system where the authority to release funds to aid disaster victims can be exercised by the component federal states instead of being monopolized by the national government.

"That is one distinct advantage of the federal system. The federal state would have the necessary power to meet contingencies. All the agencies responsible for assisting disaster victims would be found within the federal state. They might still need assistance from the national government, but the primary responsibility for rendering emergency relief assistance would be placed on the shoulders of the federal state," he said.

In the wake of the widespread havoc and destruction wrought by killer Typhoon Frank, local officials and displaced residents in disaster areas complained that the National Disaster Coordinating Council, Department of Social Welfare and Development and other Manila-based state agencies were too slow in responding to their call for emergency assistance.

The most vociferous in hurling this criticism were the local chief executives and congressmen from Iloilo, Aklan, Antique and other provinces in Western Visayas which were hardest hit by the typhoon. Iloilo Governor Neil Tupas and the mayors of the cities and towns of the affected provinces even denounced the small quantities of food packages and other emergency relief items that were sent by NDCC a few days after the typhoon.

Majority of the members of the Senate have introduced Joint Resolution 10 calling for the conversion of Congress into a Constituent Assembly to amend the 1987 Constitution and lay the groundwork for the federalization of the country.

In initiating the filing of the resolution, Pimentel said the misuse and misallocation of public funds and economic wealth of the nation can be attributed to the overcentralized system of government.

"Hardly anything that is of far-reaching developmental importance moves in this country without the central government having a fundamental say over it. Hence, the overcentralization of government powers in the central government has stymied the economic development of the nation," he said.

As recommended by Resolution 10, the taxes and other revenues collected by the national government shall be apportioned in the following manner: 20 percent shall go to the federal government and 80 percent to the federal states.

In contrast, under the present unitary system, 60 percent of internal revenue tax collection goes to the national government and 40 percent to local government units.

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