“I don’t think we are ready for that. We are very much on the process of uniting as one (economy),” said Dr. Jesus Estanislao, founder and chairman emeritus of the Institute of Corporate Directors (IDC), during his talk at Mandaue Business Summit held at the Oakridge Business Park.

Estanislao emphasized the need for the country to work as a strong economy before it shifts to a new form of government. He cited the different levels of progress in the regions that need to be looked into.

“We are not yet done strengthening our regions,” said Estanislao.

The federal constitution proposed by the Consultative Committee was designed to “build a permanent and indissoluble nation.” It seeks to establish 18 federated regions, including the Bangsamoro and the federation region of the Cordillera, that will be headed by a regional legislature, a regional executive, and a regional judiciary.

During his talk, Estanislao, who was a former Neda chief and finance chief in past administrations, said the country must grow its regions and have them linked to grow as a strong national economy that is able to withstand the trade and tariff wars happening in the global sphere.

He challenged the government to attain higher security, especially in basic commodities like rice, fruits and vegetables, among others.

“The seas have already divided us, making us an archipelago but we need to use it to bind us together and make us a compact archipelago,” said Estanislao.

Besides forging intra-regional ties, the IDC official also urged the Philippines to strengthen its ties with Indonesia and Vietnam, whose economies are fast-growing.

He urged the government and stakeholders to develop the country’s local industries to serve its over 100 million consumers as well as cater to the requirements of neighboring countries like Indonesia and Vietnam.

“They should be a friend of ours,” said Estanislao. “We need to link ourselves with these two countries or embark on joint projects with them.” Indonesia has moved from being the Philippines’ 11th top trading partner in 2015, to the Philippines’ ninth top trading partner in 2017.

Philippine-Indonesian trade has increased from $4 billion in 2015 to over $7 billion in 2017.

Vietnam, on the other hand, was the Philippines’s 12th trading partner, its 12th export market and 12th import supplier in 2016.