No federalism for Lacson-Sotto tandem

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 22) — The tandem of Senator Panfilo "Ping" Lacson and Senate President Vicente "Tito" Sotto III is proposing an alternative to federalism without having to amend the Constitution.

Instead of creating regional governments under a federal setup, Sotto said their budget reform program would decentralize funds to the provinces, municipalities, cities, and even barangays.

Sotto said the acronym for the program is BRAVE, or Budget Reform Advocacy for Village Empowerment.

"'Yung BRAVE would be the answer. I doubt if we could push for federalism at this point," Sotto said in a briefing.

Sotto added that Lacson has been pushing for the program since a few years back.

"It encompasses the entire...needs and necessities and problems of the entire country," Sotto said. "This budget reform program may be the answer to the salient feature of a federal form of government. Pwede nang maging parang style ng federalism siya [It can be sort of a federalism style] without changing the Constitution because you bring down the money to the people."

Sotto said shifting to federalism would take too long and would be of little benefit to a president who endorses it.

"In NPC we had a seminar, we had a workshop on federalism. We wanted to know if we were going to support it. Doon sa nakuha namin at napag-aralan namin [From what we got and studied], the transition period would be from five to 10 years. The president who will push for it will no longer be president by the time the transition point comes in," he added.

As for economic charter change, which has been passed by the House of Representatives, Sotto said even if the Senate would approve it soon, it will have to wait until a plebiscite is held simultaneously with the 2022 elections.

He reiterated that the best option would be amendments to key economic measures, which the Senate plans to prioritize when sessions resume next week.

CNN Philippines correspondent Eimor Santos contributed to this report.