Duterte still pushing for federalism, says Palace

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte remains bent on pushing for a shift from a unitary to a federal form of government, Malacañang said on Monday, January 21, after the Chief Executive hinted at limiting constitutional revisions to the economic provisions.

The President was merely unleashing his "creative" side when he floated the possibility of just seeking a revision of economic provisions under the 1987 Constitution, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a press conference.

Panelo said the President raised the idea, as the latter may have felt that Congress has not taken "serious moves" to deliberate with the proposed federal set-up.

"You know, the President is a very creative. If he feels that one method is not practical or cannot be realized, he goes to another one. What is important to him is certain provisions of the Constitution must be amended," the Palace official said in an interview with Palace reporters.

"Perhaps what he is saying is that, it takes too long for Congress to act on it. Because remember that he has been advocating for a revision of the Constitution at the inception of his presidency and Congress know that or knew that. But Congress hasn’t taken serious moves to make it a realization," he added.

In a speech delivered in Cotabato City on January 18, the President alluded that there might be a possible shift in the constitutional reforms, as it might just focus on revising the economic provisions stated under the 1987 Constitution.

Duterte, however, did not elaborate of his proposal.

"We have been used to it. We are the people governed by elections and we elect leaders. The leaders must be the choice of the people. I am sure that with that -- the fundamentals provided by the law and hopefully, if we can amend the Constitution, not all, but a few of the economic provisions and some...," he said.

Duterte created a consultative committee in 2016 to craft a proposed federal charter that will replace the 1987 Constitution to pave the way for a federal state.

Congress, however, has yet to approve the proposed constitutional amendments.

In December 2018, the House of Representatives passed to the Senate the proposed constitution seeking a federal system of government.

The Senate, however, has yet to tackle the proposed charter change, as it prioritized first the deliberations for the proposed 2019 budget.

Despite the latest development, Panelo said Duterte was not abandoning his planned shift to federal charter.

Panelo said it would now be the Congress's "judgment call" on whether it would prioritize the passage of the proposed federal constitution.

"He (Duterte) is just expressing an idea. As he tells us he is fond of shaking the trees, so maybe he wants reaction from those who would want to respond to his ideas," the Palace official said.

"It depends how members of Congress would take it... Gusto niya ngang madaliin na. Pero he is not alone (He in fact wants to hasten the passage of proposed federalism but he is not alone). It’s Congress, Congress has to do something about it," he added. (SunStar Philippines)


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