This is what Senate Majority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano said as he contradicted fellow vice presidential aspirant Senator Francis "Chiz" Escudero's recent statement that a federalism approach to government would not work well in the Philippine setup.
Reacting to Escudero's criticism over Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte's call for a Federal form of government, Cayetano dubbed the latter's account as a "classic Manila-centric" attitude and remained firm that inclusive growth can only be achieved if power and resources are equally distributed among all the regions.
“It is clear that there are some people who just want to get votes and win but lack the passion and the vision to change the country. They offer the same solutions that have failed miserably in the past and will not go to great extents to create real changes that people want and need,” Cayetano lamented.
"This ‘Manila first, other regions later policy' of Senator Escudero and his running mate, Senator Grace Poe, is actually the main cause for underdevelopment and the lack of jobs for our people in other parts of the country. It's apparent that their tandem only wants to limit economic growth and improvement in the National Capital Region," he added.
Cayetano further said Escudero’s position on the matter is “understandable” because as the former chairperson of the Senate Committee on Finance, Escudero would naturally defend the national budget, which allocates one-third of the country’s funds to Metro Manila while other regions only get two to four percent each.
The senator also took a jab at Escudero for questioning his motive in backing Duterte’s call, stressing that he has been supporting the same agenda even before his tandem with the Davao mayor was formalized.
“For the past two years, I have been pushing for the decongestion of Metro Manila by decentralizing government and promoting countryside development. This has been my call since the very beginning,” Cayetano pointed out.
Cayetano has long been urging government to fund more programs that will promote development among other regions in the country. He earlier stressed that bolder solutions and swifter action are needed to attain inclusive growth, as many Filipinos living outside the metropolis still feel left behind.
"The very essence of Federalism is to ensure that growth and prosperity are spread to every part of the Philippines, not just in Manila. It's a pity that Senators Poe and Escudero are against this. Kawawa naman ang ibang parte ng bansa kung sila ang mamumuno," Cayetano concluded. ###