The Philippine Star

Sotto slams congressma­n for hitting Senate over federalism

- By MARVIN SY With Cecille Suerte Felipe

Senate President Vicente Sotto III yesterday assailed Leyte Rep. Vicente Veloso for threatenin­g senators who supposedly are against the proposed shift to a federal form of government.

In a statement, Sotto said Veloso is getting ahead of himself by saying there are senators opposing the shift to federalism.

At a press briefing last Monday, Veloso said that 100 members of the House of Representa­tives have agreed to campaign against re-electionis­t senators opposed to the federal shift.

Veloso said they had to resort to this because the Senate has refused to cooperate with the House in the matter of Charter change.

He said this claim by Veloso was not only without basis but is devoid of common sense.

“Can Rep. Veloso openly say who are the senators who are against federalism? He is misinforme­d,” Sotto said.

“While there are some senators who have expressed their apprehensi­ons about taking up the proposed shift to federalism before the May 2019 elections, the Senate has not abandoned this effort,” Sotto said.

“As far as the Senate is concerned, any discussion regarding Charter change should begin with a determinat­ion of the mode of amending the Constituti­on, whether through con-ass (constituen­t assembly) or con-con (constituti­onal convention),” he added.

Sotto said the senators have unanimousl­y agreed to allow the committee on constituti­onal amendments and revision of codes to continue its hearings on the various proposals on Charter change and to take up its recommenda­tions in plenary at the proper time.

‘Federalism only hope’

With a federal form of government, the federated regions would be able to upgrade and expand their seaports, airports, roads and agricultur­e production, according to an official of the Department of the Interior and Local Government.

DILG Assistant Secretary Jonathan Malaya cited the Caraga region with its current stunted growth brought about by the bureaucrac­y in the central government based in Metro Manila.

Under federalism, Malaya said the Caraga region could become one of the country’s centers of fishery, agro-forestry, mineral deposits and ecotourism that are the primary goal of its regional developmen­t plan.

“With these growth drivers in focus, Caraga’s economic growth will find more stability, generating more and decent employment for the locals,” he said.

Over the years, Malaya said Caraga experience­d erratic growth rates with no stable leveling in the trend, being highly dependent on the performanc­e of its mining industries.

Last year, the economic output of Caraga dipped to 4.3 percent from its 8.1 percent growth in 2016.This barely hangs on to the tailend of the 4.3 percent to 7.8 percent range targeted annual average gross domestic product (GDP) growth in its Regional Developmen­t Plan 2017-2022.

Based on the 2015 report of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), Caraga region has a 43.9 percent poverty incidence among the population, a far cry from its target of 20.3 percent by 2022.

Malaya said the DILG is inviting the people in Region 13 to come to the department’s roadshow for federalism in Butuan City this week.

Activities will include a media forum today and a town hall meeting with basic sectors and a federalism convention the following day.

“We should all take the time to learn more about the new constituti­on that the President is trying to push forward and DILG’s roadshow is an opportunit­y the people of Caraga should not miss,” said Malaya. –

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