Former Senate President Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel is eyeing Sabah as one of the federal states to be created under the Philippines’ federal form of government.
“Sabah is ours and many countries recognized it,” said Pimentel during a Lecture on Federalism held at the Manila Polo Club in Makati City Monday.
Pimentel said that Sabah belongs to the Philippines and there are documents to prove this claim; Malaysia is just a lessee, he added.
The country, under the federal system, will create 11 federal states, while keeping a presidential form of government and increasing the number of elected senators from the present 24 to 81.
There will be four states in Luzon— Northern Luzon, Central Luzon, Southern Tagalog, Bicol and another four in Visayas—Eastern Visayas, Central Visayas, Western Visayas, and Minparom, covering Mindoro Oriental and Mindoro Occidental, Palawan and the Kalayaan Islands, Romblon, Marinduque while three in Mindanao—Northern Mindanao, which may be subdivided into Northwestern and Northeastern Mindanao; Southern Mindanao, Bangsamoro.
The National Capital Region will be the capital of the Federal Republic of the Philippines, just like the Washington D.C. in the United States.
Pimentel explained the system is necessary to allow government resources to be distributed equitably to each province in the country.
“It is a system of sharing power,” he said.
Pimentel is the founding chairman of Partido Demokratiko Pilipino—Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), the political party of President Rodrigo Duterte who is also strongly pushing for a federal system of government.
Under the proposal, the president and the vice president will be elected with a six-year term of office without reelection, unlike the present system where they are voted separately, while senators will no longer be elected nationwide.
There will be 66 senators for the 11 federal states and Metro Manila will also have six senators, and nine more to represent overseas Filipinos. In all, there will be 81 senators under the federal system.
Federalism, according to Pimentel, will accomplish two major things—cause the speedy development of the entire country by unleashing the forces of competitiveness among states; and second, dissipate the cause of rebellion in the country, particularly in Mindanao.
By federalizing the Republic, the States will concretely address the needs of their component sectors more readily, he added.
Duterte’s pitch on changing the country’s system into a federal-parliamentary form, has been a popular idea in provinces away from the capital, but has been lacking support from sitting politicians.
Duterte complained that Manila gets everything “so regions are forced to beg.”
Jun Ledesma, one of Duterte’s trusted allies in Mindanao, said that the mayor’s pitch for a transition into a federal form of government would happen through a constitutional convention “in three years time.”
Echoing the Davao mayor, Ledesma said that federalism “would be the best solution to the infighting,” especially in the south.
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