The goals of federalism can still be met without the need to spend much time and resources to amend or revise the 1987 Constitution, if Sen. Panfilo M. Lacson’s Budget Reform Advocacy for Village Empowerment (BRAVE) bill is passed into law.
Lacson said the BRAVE bill, which is similar to federalism as it empowers local government units by giving them funding for their development projects, even gained the support of Cabinet Secretary Leoncio Evasco Jr.
“Parang federalism yan dahil ibababa ang karamihan ng pondo o malaking bahagi ng pondo ng national government, ilalatag papunta sa kanayunan sa probinsya nang sa ganoon matuto sila mag-develop on their own,” Lacson said in an interview on DZBB on Sunday.
“Kung ito halimbawa ma-approve sa House of Representatives at Senado at ma-bicameral, ma-approve ito maging batas, masasabatas ang pagkalat ng pondo sa mga probinsya,” he added.
The BRAVE bill, one of the first proposed measures Lacson filed in 2016, is presently pending in the committee level. It aims to give LGUs meaningful local autonomy to attain their fullest development as self-reliant communities.
It also seeks to end the culture of mendicancy and political patronage, and in turn, help the country realize the elusive inclusive growth.
Lacson said that when he first presented the details of his bill to Evasco, a former mayor of Maribojoc in Bohol, Evasco said President Rodrigo Duterte might even forget federalism because BRAVE can meet his goals of ending the “doleout mentality.”
“Ang sabi niya nang natapos ang presentation, ang comment niya lang, pag ito nakita ang presentation na ito ni presidente, makakalimutan niya ang federalism kasi ito ang kanyang layunin. Ang objective niya huwag lahat na governors and mayors lalo ang malalayo at mahirap na lugar e lagi na lang sa Metro Manila pudpod ang tsinelas at sapatos kasi nagmamalimos, ang doleout mentality ng Pilipino lalo ng pulitiko hindi mawala,” he said.
For now, Lacson said he plans to report out the bill on the Senate floor as an alternative to Charter change.
“Kung halimbawa hindi magkasundo sa usaping Chacha para patungo sa federalism, ito ang pinakamagandang sabihin nating alternative method o means para ma-achieve ang pagkalat ng development sa iba’t ibang lugar sa ating bansa,” he said.
“Ang nilalayon ang national budget mismo mag-appropriate na sa para sa lahat na probinsya munisipyo syudad at lahat na barangay… Sa ganoon, kakalat ang development. Yan ang gusto ni Pangulong Duterte ngayon. Actually noon ko pa ito advocate, even before the campaign,” he added.
Under the BRAVE bill, a Local Development Fund (LDF) will be divided among the different political subdivisions to be used solely for developmental projects, activities and programs (PAPs).
The LDF, to be automatically and directly released to every LGU at the start of the fiscal year or quarterly within five days at the start of each quarter, includes:
For provinces: P500 million to P1 billion each
For cities: P100 to P200 million each
For towns/municipalities: P50 to P100 million each
For barangays: P3 to P5 million each
The PAPs shall be based on their approved Comprehensive Development Plans (CDPs), which in turn will be reviewed annually by a committee created to review their performance and determine if their funding should be reduced or retained.
Meanwhile, P1 billion shall be appropriated to the Local Government Academy (LGA) to provide the LGUs with the necessary tools to effectively plan and properly implement their PAPs.