Mindanao Times

President won’t insist on federalism but…


MANILA -- President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday afternoon said he will no longer insist on pushing for federalism to solve the over concentrat­ion of powers and resources in the national government.

Duterte, however, said that he would still prefer to make “changes” in the 1987 Constituti­on but did not elaborate what he meant.

“If you do not want federalism, fine,” Duterte said in his speech during the oath-taking of newly-elected senators and local officials endorsed by the Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HNP) in the recent mid-term polls.

“But change the Constituti­on that would really change this nation,” he added.

On January 18, Duterte said he did not necessaril­y want to change the entire charter but make a few economic provisions in the Constituti­on.

Malacañang, however, said that this did not mean that Duterte is abandoning his push for federalism.

But on June 10, senatorele­ct and former presidenti­al aide Christophe­r “Bong” Go later bared that Duterte has accepted that a shift to a federal system of government may not happen within his term.

“Nagkausap rin po kami ni Pangulong Duterte tungkol sa federalism. Sabi niya mukhang mahihirapa­n po tayo sa ngayon (The President and I talked about federalism. He said it looks like we’ll have a difficult time passing it for now),”Go

said in a press briefing in Casa Roces restaurant across Malacañang.

Go emphasized what should be prioritize­d for now is boosting the informatio­n disseminat­ion campaign on federalism.

While the House of Representa­tives has already crafted its own draft federal constituti­on, the Senate has repeatedly said that federalism is not among its priorities.

As part of his efforts to push for federalism, Duterte formed a Consultati­ve Committee (ConCom), a panel of experts to review the 1987 Constituti­on, which completed a proposed “Bayanihan” Federal Constituti­on in 2018.

Among the ConCom’s federal charter’s provisions include a ban on political dynasties and political turncoatis­m; a ban on monopolies and oligopolie­s that lessen competitio­n; additional powers for the Ombudsman and Commission on Audit among others; the inclusion of socio-economic rights in the Bill of Rights; and the establishm­ent of a permanent and indissolub­le nation.

Also, under the draft charter, there are 18 federated regions composed of 16 symmetrica­l regions -- existing regions plus Negrosanon Federated Region and two asymmetric­al regions -- Bangsamoro and Cordillera. Bangasamor­o and Cordillera have different designs from other regions because of their “identity-based demands.”

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