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Davao City, Philippines

Lucky Nine

January 17, 2020 - Friday 4:01 AM by Jimmy Laking

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The proposal of the House of Representatives’ committee on constitutional amendments for the creation of nine regions under a federal form of government seems to be gaining ground.

This was in sharp contrast to the lukewarm response that the 16-region proposal of the Constitutional Commission elicited.

Nine may be the lucky number. The committee on constitutional amendments, chaired by Rep. Rufus Rodriguez of Cagayan de Oro City, said it was looking forward to one senator each from the proposed nine regions based on the principle of subsidiarity.

Secretary Noel K. Felongco, the lead convener of the Duterte administration’s National Anti-Poverty Commission, on Wednesday said the proposed federalism setup of nine regions would fast-track poverty eradication without a doubt.

“This is because the regions will have a direct hand in addressing the problem of poverty once and for all,” he said.

NAPC is the government’s coordinating body in fulfilling the Philippine Development Plan’s mandate of lifting six million Filipinos from poverty in 2022.

Felongco made the prediction in a message sent to regional NAPC offices, saying the House proposal advocated by Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez should be supported.

Prof. Adrian M. Tamayo of the Mindanao Development Authority said with nine regions, “the economies of scale for each region will be achieved, averting creation of poor regions under the proposed federal system.”

“With nine regions, economic integration of proximate geographic areas would be easier, and the operationalization of equalization fund would be concentrated especially in improving basic services and support to sectors within the territory,” said Tamayo, an economist who studied the federal system in Europe.

The House of Representatives has renewed a vigorous push towards a federal system of government as proposed by the consultative committee headed by retired Chief Justice Reynato Puno.

The committee on constitutional amendments agrees with the Puno commission but with amendments based on further consultations.

Davao City-based architect Florencio Gavino said the proposed 16 states would be a recipe for disaster as it would result in poor regions and bloated bureaucracies.

The proposed nine regions would be more viable economically, he said.

Rodriguez said the committee also proposed the election of senators by region following the rule of subsidiarity.


The imminent eruption of Taal Volcano and the flooding of parts of Cagayan Valley and Iloilo due to typhoons and the series of earthquakes that rocked Southeastern Mindanao reminds me of the catastrophic events that struck mainland Luzon during the period 1990-1991.

On July 19, 1990, a pair of 7.8 magnitude struck Central and Northern Luzon, leaving a swathe of destruction that claimed more than 2,000 lives, destroyed roads and bridges, and brought the economy to a standstill.

A month later in the Middle East, Iraq invaded Kuwait, triggering an open confrontation with American led-forces that eventually led to the downfall of Sadam Hussein.

A year later, Mt. Pinatubo erupted, blanketed Central Luzon with lahar and ash, killed 800 people, drove away the Americans from Clark and Subic, and stagnated the economy.

Today, after a massive brushfire struck Australia and after massive flooding inundated Jakarta, Batangas is taking the brunt of Taal Volcano’s ash release. Not to mention, the full force of its imminent eruption.

It is said that after Pinatubo’s eruption, Planet Earth cooled significantly for years. That is another bright side to look at if Taal eventually unleashes its lava load.

Its activity so far has not claimed a single life. Let us pray it does not need to kill people while fulfilling what is expected of it as a God-given creation.