MANILA: A close ally of President Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte who also heads his economic team, stepped up his criticisms on the proposed controversial shift to a federal form of government, warning this could lead to dire economic consequences particularly mass layoff of employees in government.

“This means the national government may have to lay off 95 percent of its employees or reduce the funds for its ‘Build, Build,’ programme by 70 percent or a combination of both,” warned Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez.

Dominguez was referring to the programme, described as the centerpiece in the Duterte administration’s plan to build major infrastructure projects like roads, airports, seaports, bridges and the like to move the country forward.

Aside from mass dismissals, Dominguez also warned  that if the “ambigous and unclear” provisions in the proposed Constitution for the shift to federalsim were not sorted out this could also lead to adverse economic consequences such as widening of the economic deficit and the downgrading of the country’s credit ratings.

In airing his criticisms, Dominguez  pointed out that he was not against the adoption of a new Constitution for the shift from the present  presidential and unitary form of government to federalism.

But he emphasised the urgent need for  federalism advocates  to explain fully the ambigous and unclear provisions in the proposed Constitution, drafted by a Conultative Committee set up by Duterte and a copy of which has already been presented to the president.

A member of the committee, the Reverend Ranhilio Aquino, the dean of the San Beda Graduate School of Law, demanded that Duterte dismiss Dominguez as well as Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernea for their criticisms on the shift to federalism.

In his Facebook page, Aquino said: “If President Duterte favors federalism, let him sack Dominguez and Pernea or command them to keep their traps shut.”

But Harry Roque, the president spokesman, on Saturday defended Dominguez and Pernea, pointing out that although has not abandoned federalism, Malacanang Palace was bent on  “encouraging a healthy discussion” on the issue.

“The opinion of the president’s economic managers is due to the myriad voices that would contribute to a higher level of discourse not against federalism,” Roque stressed.

 




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