THE Centrist Democracy Political Institute (CDPI), a group of federalism supporters, urged the Congress to start the deliberation on the amendment of the 1987 Constitution this year for it to be ratified in 2019 and to finally start federalism in the country.

CDPI chairperson Lito Lorenzana said it is important to start the process of shifting into a federal form of government this year while President Rodrigo Duterte still has five years of his term to include himself in the movement.

"We all know that this will need a long time to process and it is important that our President is part of this," he said.

While revising the 1987 Constitution, Lorenzana said the country has to have a political party reform through the passing of the Political Party Development and Financing Act, which is a pending bill in Congress for several years.

This bill, he said, will enforce transparent mechanisms providing and regulating campaign financing to eliminate graft, corruption, and patronage. It will also penalize those who are switching political parties from time to time.

Lorenzana said CDPI also encourages the Senate to enact a law banning political dynasties as mandated in Article 2 Section 26 of the current constitution.

He also recommended to reform the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to remove all quasi-judicial work and transfer electoral contests to the judiciary.

"All of these recommendations will help the country in the transition towards federalism," Lorenzana said.

CDPI, he said, conducted debates and open discussion with 70 private organizations in the country for the past three months.

The debates and discussions were conducted to share various ideologies regarding the planned federalism in the country.

"So far, most of the people we have conversed with were supportive to it. They said it will allow regions to develop themselves the way they see fit based on their culture and other conditions," he said.

Last August, the House of Representatives Committee on Constitutional Amendments has created four technical working groups who will draft the new constitution, aiming to finish the draft by November this year and submit it by December to the House Committee on Rules chaired by majority leader Rodolfo Fariñas of Ilocos Norte.

Lorenza said federalism supporters in the country are looking forward that the four technical working groups could meet the planned timeline to expedite the whole process before the term of President Duterte ends in 2022.