Press Release
May 17, 2017

Pimentel: Federalism is the practical solution to PH age-old problems of poverty, inequality and instability

SURIGAO CITY -- Senate President Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III today said the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino Lakas ng Bayan (PDP Laban) sees federalism as the practical solution to the age-old problems of poverty, inequality, and instability that continue to hobble the development of the country.

He said federalism provides a system wherein national unity is maintained while at the same time recognizing and protecting the diversity of a truly diverse and multi-cultural Philippine society.

Pimentel said federalism hopes to immediately involve the regions in national decision-making, accelerate economic growth, attain enduring peace in Mindanao and allow the preservation of culture and language of various ethno-linguistic groups.

In a speech during the 116th founding anniversary of "One Surigao" before a huge crowd in Surigao City early this week, Pimentel said the mission of PDP Laban as a political party is to fix the country's problems through structural change to address their root causes.

"PDP Laban believes in structural analysis in determining what ails the nation. We do not believe that mere changes in the personalities of our leaders can fix our nation's problems. We believe that we need to change structures and systems to address the root causes of our nation's problems," he said.

Pimentel, who is also PDP Laban president, said based on the party's structural analysis, the Philippines is a tale of two extremes.

"Philippine society has two faces. One is the face of progress, economic development, peace and order. The other is the face of poverty, conflict, and of having been left behind," he said.

Under the current unitary system of government, he said economic development has been lopsided in favor of Metro Manila, the center of power, and the areas closest to it.

Pimentel cited the cases of Metro Manila and the nearby provinces of Bulacan, Pampanga, Rizal, Cavite, Laguna and Batangas, saying the National Capital Region, Central Luzon and Southern Tagalog together account for 62 percent of the country's gross domestic product (GDP).

"There is a correlation between GDP or productivity and poverty," he said, adding in these areas the poverty rate range from 3.9 percent to 6.8 percent with Metro Manila registering a poverty incidence rate of 3.9 percent, Bulacan 4.5 percent, Laguna and Rizal 5.4 percent each and Cavite 6.8 percent.

These are in stark contrast, he said, to the poverty incidence rates of the poorest places in the country such as Bukidnon which has a poverty incidence rate of 53.6 percent, Sulu 54.9 percent, Northern Samar 56.2 percent, Maguindanao 57.2 percent, and Lanao del Sur 71.9 percent.

The national average, he said, is 21.6 percent.

Based on the locations of the rich and poor provinces, Pimentel said, there is a relationship between distance from Metro Manila, which is the center of power, and the poverty incidence of a place.

"The closer the place is to the center of power, the better the chance of that place to economically progress," he said.

Pimentel said this dichotomy in Philippine society, where there are places of wealth, comfort, and modernity, co-existing with places of extreme poverty, happened under a unitary system of government with Metro Manila as the one and only center of power.

Since its formation in 1982, Pimentel said the PDP Laban has proposed the adoption of the federal system of government to fix the inter-generational problems of poverty, inequality, and societal instability resulting from the two faces of Philippine society.

He said retaining the unitary system of government would only allow the rich regions to become richer, while the poor regions would become poorer because capital, talent, and infrastructure are already concentrated in the rich regions where the law and order situation is also better.

"These rich regions will also still be the areas closest to the ones that can best take advantage of the economic growth that the Philippines is projected to enjoy in the years to come," said Pimentel, adding the gap between the rich and poor regions is also projected to widen.

Pimentel said government should not allow the "two poles of our society to be too far apart, otherwise, Philippine society will break up and the Philippines will become a failed state."

He said the Philippines needs structural change, which the Filipino people had demanded and President Duterte and his allies vowed to deliver, to allow the neglected places in the country to catch up with the more affluent communities.

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