If the shift to federal system pushes through, only four out of the 18 proposed region-states can sustain its operations as a federated region, Marcos-era finance chief and Prime Minister Cesar Virata said.
"Among the regions in the Philippines that can be self-supporting. I think, only about four can be self-supporting and the rest I don't know how they can really establish a self-supporting region-state," Virata told GMA News Online on the sidelines of Enercon 2018 Forum in Muntinlupa City on Thursday.
In terms of revenue collections, the former prime minister said the National Capital Region, Calabarzon, Central Luzon, and Central Visayas have the capacity to sustain its operations while the rest are still dependent on the national government.
"It is still very difficult tell that there will be an improvement as compared with what local governments now receive in terms of sharing taxes," Virata said.
"If they really like a federal system, they should also consider the cost of having a duplicate government which is very expensive," he said, noting that the cost may reach more than P800 billion.
To make things simpler, the former prime minister is suggesting to divide the county into just three federated states not the proposed 18.
"If they really want it, just make it Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao," Virata said.
In a separate interview, University of the Philippines Los Baños Department of Economics chair Agham Cuevas said the proposed shift to federalism should give the region states more "power of the purse."
"You need to put more power of the purse to the local governments, give them more control of what types of projects they can implement," Cuevas said.
"If the fiscal structure is not addressed, then the federalism that we would have will lead us to chaos," he added. —NB, GMA News