A federal form of government that Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte said could bring peace to Mindanao would result in higher taxes, administration presidential candidate Manuel “Mar” Roxas II said Monday.
In a chance interview after campaigning at the Islamic Community in Quiapo, Manila, Roxas said: "Ang federalism is another layer of taxes. Kung gusto ninyo ng mas dagdag na buwis, federalism ang inyong pipiliin."
"Lahat ng mga federal systems merong buwis na pang-nasyonal at merong buwis na pang-lokal. Sa atin, unitary system, isang buwis lang, at ipinapadala sa lokal na nakokolekta ang pera. Ang kagandahan sa sistema natin, sa ngayon, di ninanakaw ang pera, buong-buo, walang kaltas, walang kupit, walang kickback," Roxas explained.
Duterte had consistently pushed for federalism even before he ran for president. In an interview in November 2015, he said "nothing short of a federal structure can give peace in Mindanao."
While he admitted that there is much more to be done in the Mindanao region in terms of peace and progress, Roxas said federalism is not the way to go.
"Ang tingin ko sa federalism, this is another way of saying ‘we want more resources.’ Hindi nila nakikita sa kasalukuyang sistema yung pagtanggap ng pagdagdag ng resources, kaya naghahanap sila ng ibang paraan, federalism," he said.
Roxas touted that in the past five years of the Aquino administration, more than P260 billion were poured into infrastructure projects in Mindanao. He said the amount is twice the infrastructure allocation during the terms of former President Joseph “Erap” Estrada and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Roxas promises an expanded bottom-up budgeting (BuB) program which would empower local government units and civil society organizations to identify projects to be funded by the national government.
He said the BuB, which would have a budget of P10 billion if he wins, will improve the economy on the local level.
"Isa yan sa mga paraan para lalong gumanda hindi lang yung ekonomiyang pang-nasyunal kundi pati ang pang-lokal na ang katumbas niyan ay pera sa bulsa ng bawat mamayang Pilipino," Roxas said.
Roxas also vowed anew to push for the enactment of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) if he wins in the May national elections.
"I think that there has to be broad consultations...Kailangan nating linawin ‘yan para nasa tama din ang ating kilos. May kasabihan nga: Maling diagnosis, maling gamot," he said.
The BBL, the proposed legal framework of the peace agreement between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, failed to pass Congress despite the repeated appeals of President Benigno Aquino III to lawmakers. —KBK, GMA News