Palace downplays criticisms vs federalism
Malacanang downplayed on Wednesday criticisms against country's proposed shift to federal system, such as creating division among Filipinos and double taxation.
In a phone patch interview, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said under federal system, there will be more equitable distribution of wealth.
He noted under the current set up, wealth and power are concentrated in Metro Manila and other cities while those in the provinces are being left out.
This was the reason some politicians, such as the Ampatuan clan in Maguindanao, were engaged in "warlordism," he said.
The late Maguindanao governor Andal Ampatuan and some of his family members were allegedly behind the gruesome killings of 58 people, including 32 journalists, in November 2009. The incident was known as the Maguindanao Massacre.
Under federalism, Roque said the "middle class will be strengthened."
Contrary to the critics, he said federalism would not result to division among the Filipinos.
The Filipinos have different dialects and customs and yet "all of us are united," he said.
Even if the country was colonized by foreign invaders, he said, "we have carved our own independence as Filipinos."
Roque also belittled the warning of former Chief Justice Hilario Davide that federal system would be anti-poor due to possibility of double taxation.
"It's (double taxation) not yet sure," he said, noting that under the current presidential form of government, people pay taxes in the national and local levels.
"Now we are paying local tax, real property tax, sale tax. There's no big difference," he added.
According to Davide, one of the members of the constitutional convention that drafted the 1987 Constitution, two taxes were necessary under the federal system- one for the central government and the other to the federal state. Celerina Monte/DMS