Binay vows “enhanced decentralization” and greater share of IRA for poorest towns

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 29 November) –Vice President Jejomar Binay on Sunday vowed to “explore reorganizing governance, including enhanced decentralization and greater share” of the Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) for the country’s poorest towns, if he were elected President.

“The more decentralized decision-making is, the more responsive it will be. The more empowered local government units are, the more accountable they become. Presidents may no longer behave like emperors, impervious to the views of the grassroots,” Binay said at the Kusog Mindanaw Dialogue with National Candidates at the Waterfront Insular Hotel. .

Binay was the only Presidential candidate who attended the Dialogue with National Candidates as organizers said Senators Grace Poe and Miriam Defensor-Santiago and administration bet Mar Roxas declined due to previous commitments.

Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, who filed his certificate of candidacy on Friday as the PDP-Laban’s substitute candidate for President, was not yet a candidate for the top post when invitations were sent out last month.

Duterte is espousing decentralization through federalism, a move that would require amending the 1987 Constitution.

“Hindi mo kailangang maging taga-Mindanao para pamunuan mo ng maayos ang Mindanao at buong bansa” (You don’t have to be a Mindanawon to be able to serve properly Mindanao and the rest of the country), Binay said.

Binay said his administration will also decentralize the issuance of permits. He cited as example that while mining permits from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has been devolved, regional directors “cannot approve a permit without clearance from Manila.”

Another example is the issuance of import commodity clearance which has been devolved to the local offices of the Department of Trade and Industry but still requires the signature from the head office in Manila.

“The centralized system makes it harder and more costly to do business in Mindanao, or anywhere outside the capital,” he said.

Binay acknowledged that securing peace is important for Mindanao’s development and that he is committed to “lasting peace in Mindanao.”

“We need a peace agreement that would address the concerns of all groups and stakeholders, whether Muslim, Lumad, or Christian,” he said.

“I support an agreement that is within the bounds of our Constitution and national sovereignty. But peace and development need not be put on hold while Congress deliberates the BBL (Bangsamoro Basic Law),” he added.

He also said a Binay presidency will ensure that the country’s peace and order situation will be safeguarded as he will appoint his vice-president, Senator Gregorio Honasan, a retired soldier, as anti-crime czar.

Asked if he will prosecute the previous administration during his Presidency, Binay was quick to reply that his administration will be a “unifying and healing administration.”

He said he will not follow what has been done in previous administrations like what happened to former presidents Joseph Estrada and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo who were both jailed for plunder.

Though he called the administration of President Benigno S. Aquino “abusive and ineffective,” Binay promised to continue the present administration’s programs like the Private-Public Partnership (PPP) to bring development to the country and service to the people.

He said he will also “continue and improve” on the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) or 4Ps program that was started by the Arroyo administration and continued by the Aquino administration, by making sure that the funds are given on time to the beneficiaries.

“We will ensure better targeting of beneficiaries. Yung dapat lamang makakuha ng CCT ang dapat isama sa programa,” he said, adding that even the Commission on Audit has reported that the Department of Social Welfare and Development has been inefficient in the distribution of the CCT. (John Frances Fuentes / MindaNews)