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Marcos swears in new PFP members

Alexis Romero - The Philippine Star
Marcos swears in new PFP members
President Marcos chats with his son, Ilocos Norte First District Rep. Sandro Marcos, during the oathtaking of the new members of the Partido Federal ng Pilipinas at Malacañang yesterday.
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — The government is taking the initial step toward a federal government “in all but name,” President Marcos said yesterday, as he swore in new members of the Partido Federal ng Pilipinas (PFP), the party that carried him in the race for the presidency last year.

Marcos, also the national chairman of PFP, said power centers should be brought to many places and local governments should be allowed to make decisions to fast-track processes and prevent undue delays.

He added that the stability of a political structure is much more reliable when there are many power centers.

“There has to be a central tenet and a central principle to what we are doing... We were talking here about federalism and what we have started to do. Even if it is in all but name, what we are doing is giving the discretion, the power, the function, as much as possible, to the lowest level,” the President told PFP officials and members at Malacañang.

“So we are doing the first step of the... federal government for the Philippines in all but name, and that is what we will continue to do,” he added.

In his speech, Marcos did not push for constitutional amendments that would lead to a shift to a federal type of government.

However, he cited the advantages of empowering local governments as decision-makers through the concept of federal governance.

“If the power centers only belong here in Manila, then pabagsakin mo ‘yung Manila, bagsak ang buong Pilipinas (if Manila falls, the entire Philippines falls),” the Chief Executive said.

“But with the power centers being given to the local governments, to the local districts and to those who are operating at the local level and thereby bringing those power centers to many, many, many places, it makes for a more stable political structure and makes a more stable political life,” he added.

He noted that it takes about six months before the national government acts on a proposal presented by local authorities.

“That will wait and then it will take six months before it is returned to you. When it is returned, it looks different from the one you sent. We know that,” Marcos said in Filipino.

“If it can be done at the regional level, the governors, the congressmen can talk about it, you may take charge. That is our central principle. We will follow that.”

Federalism has various forms but in general, it gives more powers to local governments including taxation, enforcing business regulations and establishing courts.

The Philippines is under a unitary form of government wherein much of policies and decisions emanate from the central government in Manila.

Federalism advocates claim that under a unitary form of government, too much authority is concentrated in the capital.

The 1987 Constitution has to be amended to establish a federal type of government but such a measure is not among the priority bills of the Marcos administration.

Alliances

At the same event, Marcos called on his political allies to strengthen the PFP by forging alliances with other political parties and seeking support at the barangay level.

He said the PFP is preparing for all political cycles, including the upcoming barangay elections, which are expected to have a “big impact” on how the 2025 midterm polls would turn out.

“We need the support at the barangay level. So, that is why it was incumbent upon us to now immediately try and organize ourselves so that we are prepared because there is always a synergy,” Marcos said.

“We are trying to align the political forces...that are like-minded... And to that end, I think it is an opportune time to be able to say that after this, we are going to continue to talk to other political parties and come to an agreement with them so we can strengthen our group. Even if we belong to different parties, we can still help each other,” he added.

Marcos said uniting political parties should be about ideology and not for the sake of a “marriage of convenience.”

“We have turned what was a minor party in the political spectrum into the majority party now in the country. And that is... not only for political convenience, not only to prepare for elections... I have always been of the belief that a party must stand for an ideology,” he said.

“We are attempting to be – to transform the government, to transform the bureaucracy, to transform even the thinking of ordinary Filipino citizens and our politicians... What I always say...which is very, very much in parallel with the thinking of federalism, is that with all the systems that we are trying to put together, what we are trying to do is to make the decision process be made in as low a level as possible.”

Formed in 2018, the PFP was one of the members of the UniTeam Alliance of Marcos and Vice President Sara Duterte. Other members of the alliance were Lakas-CMD, Hugpong ng Pagbabago, Partido ng Masang Pilipino and some guest candidates from other parties.

One of those who took their oath as new members of PFP was Marcos’ son Ilocos Norte Rep. Ferdinand Alexander “Sandro” Marcos, who used to belong to the Nacionalista Party.

Also sworn in as PFP members were Bukidnon Gov. Rogelio Neil Roquel, Batanes Gov. Marilou Cayco, Aurora Gov. Christian Noveras, Zambales Gov. Hermogenes Ebdane Jr., Occidental Mindoro Gov. Eduardo Gadiano, Camarines Norte Gov. Ricarte Padilla, Albay Gov. Edcel Greco Lagman, Bohol Gov. Erico Aristotle Aumentado, Southern Leyte Gov. Damian Mercado, Lanao del Norte Gov. Imelda Dimaporo, Davao de Oro Gov. Dorothy Gonzaga, Davao del Norte Gov. Edwin Jubahib, Iloilo Gov. Arthur Defensor Jr., Maguindanao del Norte Gov. Abdulraof Macacua, Laguna Vice Gov. Katherine Agapay, National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC) lead convenor Secretary Lope Santos III, Agriculture Assistant Secretary Arlan Mangelen and NAPC Office of the Deputy Director General officer-in-charge Girlie Amarillo.

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